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

ly 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.


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

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