Navigation Links
Dining out in an ocean of plastic: How foraging albatrosses put plastic on the menu
Date:10/29/2009

The North Pacific Ocean is now commonly referred to as the world's largest garbage dump with an area the size of the continental United States covered in plastic debris. The highly mobile Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), which forages throughout the North Pacific, is quickly becoming the poster child for the effects of plastic ingestion on marine animals due to their tendency to ingest large amounts of plastic.

Reporting in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, Dr. Lindsay Young of the University of Hawaii and her colleagues examined whether Laysan albatrosses nesting on Kure Atoll and Oahu, Hawaii, 2,150 km away, ingested different amounts of plastic by putting miniaturized tracking devices on birds to follow them at sea and examining their regurgitated stomach contents. Surprisingly, birds from Kure Atoll ingested almost ten times the amount of plastic compared to birds from Oahu.

Data from the tracking devices revealed that the birds were distributed over separate areas of the North Pacific during the breeding season and that birds from Kure overlapped considerably with the area of the 'western garbage patch' off of Asia which resulted in their greatly increased plastic ingestion.

"We were very surprised with the results," indicates lead author Lindsay Young. "We suspected that there may be some differences in the amount of plastic that was ingested, but to discover that birds on Kure Atoll ingested ten times the amount of plastic compared to birds on Oahu was shocking. Particularly since the colony on Oahu is less than an hour outside of urban Honolulu, and is much closer to the garbage patch in the Eastern Pacific between Hawaii and California that has received so much attention."

Young indicates that these results were further supported when the plastic items were examined virtually all of the plastic pieces recovered from birds on Kure Atoll had Asian characters on them indicating their likely origin, while none of the plastic pieces found in birds on Oahu had similar writing.

While sorting through the polluted stomach contents of albatross chicks was not a particularly pleasant task, the authors found humor in the situation. "We were sorting through these boluses right after Christmas, and there were so many small plastic toys in the birds from Kure Atoll that we joked that we could have assembled a complete nativity scene with them," says Young.

The most common identifiable items they found were paraphernalia from the fishing industry such as line, light sticks, oyster spacers, and lighters. The strangest item that they found? A sealed jar of face lotion with fresh smelling lotion still intact inside the jar. Unfortunately, while the albatross examined in this study were able to purge themselves of the plastic by regurgitating it, thousands of albatross die each year as a result of ingesting plastic debris. Plastic ingestion leads to blockage of the digestive tract, reduced food consumption, satiation of hunger, and potential exposure to toxic compounds to name but a few of its detrimental effects.

This study highlights that garbage generated by human activities on land clearly impacts ocean ecosystems thousands of miles away. And unfortunately there is no easy solution- each person must examine their footprint on the earth and how the lighter or bottle cap they toss into the trash can ultimately end up in the stomach of an albatross, thousands of miles away. Until we learn to do more with less, albatross and other marine animals will continue to dine on our garbage with as of yet unknown consequences.


'/>"/>

Contact: Rebecca Walton
rwalton@plos.org
44-122-346-3333
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Dissecting the dining habits of prawns
2. UBC researcher reveals humpback whales dining habits -- and costs
3. UBC researchers find key microbial indicator of ocean health
4. Texas A&M oceanographer receives $3.7 million grant to study Gulf dead zone
5. 2009 Deep Ocean Odyssey
6. Climate change meets ocean life in new northeast research institute
7. Ocean observing scientists and marine industries teaming up to sustainably monitor the water column
8. Genetic sex determination let ancient species adapt to ocean life
9. U of C alumnus finds high numbers of heat-loving bacteria in cold Arctic Ocean
10. Impact of renewable energy on our oceans must be investigated, say scientists
11. Ancient oceans offer new insight into the origins of animal life
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/1/2016)... NEW YORK , June 1, 2016 ... Biometric Technology in Election Administration and Criminal Identification to ... According to a recently released TechSci Research report, " ... Sector, By Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - ... $ 24.8 billion by 2021, on account of growing ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... MINNEAPOLIS , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt ... technology partnership with VoicePass. By working ... user experience.  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly ... two engines increases both security and usability. ... expressed excitement about this new partnership. ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... DALLAS , May 12, 2016 ... has just published the overview results from the Q1 ... of the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a ... wearables data with a health insurance company. ... choose to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the ... commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject ... it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), ... new ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced ... (MoMA) in New York City . ... participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater ... Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: