On August 31, 2015 researchers from Imperial College London, UK, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, published a new study on the threat of plastic pollution to seabirds in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Chris Wilcox and colleagues used literature surveys, oceanographic modeling, and ecological models to predict the risk of ingesting plastic for 186 seabird species globally. They found that impacts of marine plastic debris are greatest at the southern boundary of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans – a region previously thought to be comparatively pristine. The researchers predict that by the year 2050 99% of seabird species will have swallowed plastics. Plastic particles found in seabirds originate from e.g. plastic bags, bottle caps and fibers from synthetic clothes, which the birds mistake for food. The items often block the seabirds’ gut, which can lead to their death. According to the researchers, “improving waste management can reduce the threat plastic is posing to marine wildlife.”
Simon Levey (September 1, 2015). “Health of seabirds threatened as 90 per cent swallow plastic.” Imperial College London
Elahe Izadi (September 1, 2015). “Nearly all of the world’s seabirds have eaten plastic, study estimates.” The Washington Post
Associated Press (September 1, 2015). “Up to 90% of seabirds have plastic in their guts, study finds.” The Guardian
20 Minuten (September 1, 2015). “Fast alle Seevögel haben Plastikmüll im Magen.” (in German)
Kate Tilley (September 3, 2015). “Researchers say seabirds swallowing more plastics.” Plastics News
Wilcox, C. et al. (2015). “Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United Stated of America (advance publication August 21, 2015).