Seabirds are eating plastic litter in our oceans – but not only where you’d expect
Microplastic consumption by creatures above and below the water is my real concern. My uni colleagues and I produced a video on microplastics for a third year class and it brought home the ongoing problems when zooplankton are consuming microbeads and passing them up the food chain. If a blue whale eats up to 40 million krill per day, what percentage will contain plastics and what is the bioaccumulation in that top predator? Scary stuff
Many of you may have already seen the photograph above, of an albatross carcass full of undigested plastic junk. But how representative is that of the wider issue facing seabirds?
To help answer that question, we carried out the first worldwide analysis of the threat posed by plastic pollution to seabird species.
Our study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that nearly 60% of all seabird species studied so far have had plastic in their gut. This figure is based on reviewing previous reports in the scientific literature, but if we use a statistical model to infer what would be found at the current time and include unstudied species, we expect that more than 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic rubbish.
Rising tide of plastic
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