Navigation Links
Seabirds study shows plastic pollution reaching surprising levels off coast of Pacific Northwest
Date:7/3/2012

Plastic pollution off the northwest coast of North America is reaching the level of the notoriously polluted North Sea, according to a new study led by a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

The study, published online in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, examined stomach contents of beached northern fulmars on the coasts of British Columbia, Canada, and the states of Washington and Oregon, U.S.A.

"Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans," says Stephanie Avery-Gomm, the study's lead author and a graduate student in UBC's Department of Zoology. "Their stomach content provides a 'snapshot' sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean."

Northern fulmars forage exclusively at sea and retain ingested plastics for a long period of time, making them ideal indicators for marine littering. Analysis of beached fulmars has been used to monitor plastic pollution in the North Sea since the 1980s. The latest findings, when compared to previous similar studies, indicate a substantial increase in plastic pollution over the past four decades.

The research group performed necropsies on 67 beached northern fulmars and found that 92.5 per cent had plastics such as twine, Styrofoam and candy wrappers in their stomach. An average of 36.8 pieces per bird were found. The average total weight of plastic was 0.385 grams per bird. One bird was found with 454 pieces of plastic in its stomach.

"The average adult northern fulmar weighs five pounds, or 2.25 kilograms," says Avery-Gomm. "While 0.385 grams in a bird may seem inconsequential to us, it's the equivalent of about five per cent of their body mass. It would be like a human carrying 50 grams of plastic in our stomach about the weight of 10 quarters."

"Despite the close proximity of the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch,' an area of concentrated plastic pollution in the middle of the North Pacific gyre, plastic pollution has not been considered an issue of concern off our coast," says Avery-Gomm, "But we've found similar amounts and incident rates of plastic in beached northern fulmars here as those in the North Sea. This indicates it is an issue which warrants further study."

The researchers propose annual monitoring of trends in plastic pollution and the effectiveness of marine waste reduction strategies.

"Beached bird surveys are providing important clues about causes and patterns of sea bird mortality from oil spill impacts, fisheries by-catch and now plastic ingestion," says co-author Karen Barry with Bird Studies Canada, a not-for profit organization that helped facilitate the study.


'/>"/>

Contact: Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
604-822-2234
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Motion sensors detect horse lameness earlier than veterinarians, MU study finds
2. Study results: Adult stem cells from bone marrow
3. UCLA study looks at why heart attacks cause so much more damage in late pregnancy
4. Genes may play role in educational achievement, study finds
5. Researchers and communities at risk join forces in volcano study
6. Study identifies pathway to enhance usefulness of EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer treatment
7. Study offers new insights into the effects of stress on pregnancy
8. Recruitment by genotype for genetic research poses ethical challenges, study finds
9. Study provides first evidence of coevolution between invasive, native species
10. UCSB scientists compile first study of potential for tsunamis in northwestern California
11. New study demonstrates the role of urban greenery in CO2 exchange
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/3/2016)... Feb. 3, 2016 ... of the "Emotion Detection and Recognition ... and Others), Software Tools (Facial Expression, Voice ... Users,and Regions - Global forecast to 2020" ... --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) has announced the ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Checkpoint Inhibitors for Cancer – Explore ... you interested in the future of cancer drugs? ... Visiongain,s report gives those predictions to 2026 at ... Avoid falling behind in data or losing ... those emerging cancer therapies can achieve. There you ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016  Based on its recent ... Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) ... Award for New Product Innovation. IRIS, a prominent ... North America , is poised to set ... diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS technology presents superior ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016  With the growing need for ... is underway, therapies such as monoclonal antibodies, recombinant ... host of indications are in high demand. Conventionally ... development and production of these therapeutics. However, due ... high costs, novel approaches and novel expression systems ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... Feb. 3, 2016 Harvard Apparatus Regenerative ... company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening conditions ... that CEO Jim McGorry , will present ... on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 8:00 ... . HART,s presentation will be webcast live ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... February 03, 2016 , ... Aerocom, a world-leading supplier of ... North American healthcare market. , Aerocom Healthcare, LLC will be based in Denver, ... provide new pneumatic tube systems or expand existing systems within the U.S. and ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... 03, 2016 , ... StarNet Communications Corp, ( http://www.starnet.com/ ) ... addition of a powerful “Session Preview” feature to its FastX remote Linux visualization ... remote Linux desktop or other applications (sessions) they have running on a remote ...
Breaking Biology Technology: