9/21/2017 8:02:48 AM News

Plastic ingestion put seabirds at great risk

Plastic Ingestion

Marine plastic pollution is an increasing, and global, environmental issue. Numerous marine species are affected by plastic debris through entanglement, nest incorporation, and ingestion, which can lead to lethal and sub-lethal impacts.

Researchers from the Environmental Research Centre, Thurso found that of 69 seabird species that commonly occur in the northeastern Atlantic, 25 had evidence of ingesting plastic. However, data on plastic ingestion was available for only 49% of all species, with 74% of investigated species recorded ingesting plastic. Dr Nina O'Hanlon, a seabird ecologist at the Environmental Research Institute, said: "The production of plastic continues to rise with millions of tons entering the oceans each year.

"Seabirds can ingest plastic, become entangled in it or incorporate it into their nests, causing impacts which may have negative consequences on reproduction and survival."

Key reseach highlights:

  • Among the 34 studied species, 74% were recorded to ingest plastic.
  • Only 16% of species had data on plastic ingestion for multiple countries and years.
  • In this region, 51% of species have not been investigated for plastic ingestion.
  • Published data on nest incorporation of plastic was available for just two species.
  • Researchers recommend multi-jurisdictional collaboration in future monitoring.

Dr Alex Bond, RSPB senior conservation scientist, commented: "The northeastern Atlantic Ocean is home to internationally important breeding populations of seabirds and an amazing array of other marine life.

"Solutions to plastic pollution in the oceans require concerted action at its source on land 80% of marine litter is thought to come from land especially by producers and users."

The Environmental Reasearch Centre and the RSPB's Centre for Conservation Science research has been published in the Journal Environmental Pollution>>.