plastics from the ocean

The black-footed albatross in BC are vulnerable to mistakenly consuming plastics. From 2002-2003, I partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Archipelago Marine Research, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and commercial longline association in BC to salvage all birds in the longline fishery. We were looking for answers to whether there were noticeable, or statistically meaningful, demographic trends both in the birds caught and the ingestion of plastics.  We retrieved 15 black-footed albatross and found that eight had plastic in their stomachs.

Plastic nurdles, as shown in the photo on cover photo, are very small plastic spheres that are manufactured to create other plastics. These and other plastic objects, such as lighters, bottle tops and plastic toys shown at right, float on the surface of the ocean and are sometimes eaten by seabirds, especially the albatross and shearwaters, as well as other surface foragers like sea turtles and even some fish.

The research on the incidence of plastics in black-footed albatross in BC has been presented at conferences in Canada, USA, Uruguay and Japan; a manuscript is in preparation.  Please contact Jo Smith if you would like more information.


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