Most Sooty Shearwaters and Arctic Fulmars in the North Pacific contain plastic

Alicia Terepocki (Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington, USA) and colleagues write in the journalMarine Pollution BulletinMarine Pollution Bulletin on the levels of plastic found in the guts of Arctic or Northern Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis and Sooty Shearwaters Ardenna grisea in the North Pacific.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We found microplastic in 89.5% of 143 Northern Fulmars from 2008 to 2013 and 64% of 25 Sooty Shearwaters in 2011–2012 that were found dead or stranded on Oregon and Washington beaches.  Average plastic loads were 19.5 pieces and 0.461 g for fulmars and 13.3 pieces and 0.335 g for shearwaters.  Pre-manufactured plastic pellets accounted for 8.5% of fulmar and 33% of shearwater plastic pieces.  In both species, plastic in proventriculi averaged 2–3 mm larger in greatest dimension than in ventriculi. Intestinal plastic in fulmars averaged 1 mm less in greatest dimension than ventricular plastic.  There was no significant reduction in pieces or mass of plastic in 33 fulmars held for a median of seven days in a plastic-free environment.  Three fulmars that survived to be released from rehabilitation regurgitated plastic, which provided an alternative outlet for elimination of plastic and requires reassessment of the dynamics of plastic in seabird gastrointestinal tracts.”

 

Sooty Shearwater, photograph by the West Coast Penguin Trust

Reference:

Terepocki, A.K., Brush, Kleine, L.U., Shugart, G.W. & Hodum, P. 2017.  Size and dynamics of microplastic in gastrointestinal tracts of Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) and Sooty Shearwaters (Ardenna grisea).  Marine Pollution Bulletin  doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.12.064.

John ACAP Information Officer, 18 January 2017