90 Percent of Seabirds Have Consumed Plastic

A study conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Imperial College London found that about 90% of the seabird population has ingested plastic of some kind⎯a number that is slated to rise to 99%, the study predicted.

90 Percent of Seabirds Have Consumed Plastic - Clapway

Plastic has become increasingly common in the stomach of seabirds

Led by Dr. Chris Wilcox, the study analyzed published results from diet studies spanning back to the 1960s. Based on these results, they were able to build a predictive model for the current and future plastic consumption among 186 species of seabirds worldwide.

Studies found as little as 5% plastic ingestion in the 1960s; they revealed that more than half the species examined between 1962 and 2012 had plastic in their gut. The researchers normalized this data for time and species and estimated that the present consumption rate for plastics among seabirds is 90%. Based on historic data, and adjusting for bird size and their food foraging strategies, researchers of this study were able to attach a number to the global risk for plastic ingestion in many species of birds including shorebirds, seaducks and gulls.

What does this mean for the future?

The study predicted that the plastic ingestion rate would increase with the body size and an increased exposure to plastic, which is logical considering that birds that find more plastic when foraging for food are more likely to end up with plastic in their systems. The study also predicted that the Tasman Sea at the boundary between the southwestern Pacific and Southern Oceans and the southwestern margin of the Indian Ocean are the regions likely to have the most impact in terms of plastic consumption. Interestingly, these regions aren’t the ones with the highest plastic density, rather they have the most diversity among seabird species. This could have a staggering effect on penguins and albatrosses concentrated in these regions.

Better waste management initiatives are the only way out

Plastics have polluted the oceans and threaten to decimate the lives of sea animals. The concentration of plastics in the ocean is as high as 580,000 pieces per square kilometer. Plastic ingestion has serious consequences on marine life, by causing physical impaction of the gut and transmitting toxic chemicals that leach out from plastic materials. Meanwhile, global plastic production is rising exponentially and slated to double within the next 11 years. This calls for an immediate and effective waste management program. Even minor changes such as reduced use of plastic for daily activities and curbing single-use plastic items could have major benefits.

Did you know hummingbird tongues worked?

Seabirds are in danger. Protect the environment and preserve the nature around us before it is too late: