• AMPlus Issue7

Pacific Seabirds in Danger

Preethi Padaki

17th October 2020

Plastic accumulated from far off corners of the South Pacific Sea, including settling zones of New Zealand Albatrosses, has affirmed the perils of plastic pollution to seabirds.

Published in the journal "Aquatic Conversation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems," the data gathered by Dr Paul Scofield and ornithologist Christopher Robertson studied the patterns of plastic ingestion by seabirds from the South-Pacific.

On tackling this grave issue, Christopher Robertson, co-author of the study, said, "One of the interesting key points from this study is that it shows you just how far plastic can propagate in the ocean. Some of the areas where we collected the plastic are very remote. To me, that shows that this is a global threat; it's not something a single country can resolve on their own."

"The samples provided by our colleagues from New Zealand allowed us to analyse the patterns of seabird-plastic interactions on a substantial scale, across the entire South Pacific Ocean," said Valeria Hidalgo-Ruz, the study's lead author. The outcomes affirm that seabirds, even in remote territories like Rapa Nui, are adversely affected by this worldwide issue, creating an urgency for appropriate measures.

In the late 1990s–2000s, fieldworkers accumulated thousands of plastic pieces from Chatham Islands, Campbell Island, and Taiaroa Head in Otago. The seabirds consumed the vast majority of the plastic while searching for food and later disgorged it at their nesting sites as they attempted to nurture their chicks. Between 2003–2004, the research team also assessed the nature of plastic from the stomachs of Dingy Shearwaters killed by fishing activities around the Chatham Rise and the southeast shoreline of the South Island.


Plastic poses a threat to seabirds (Source: National geographic)

The analysts inspected the plastic based on its shape, shading, and thickness. According to Science Daily, seabirds are prone to eat vibrant-coloured plastic, specifically red, green, and blue. The examination proposed that the colourful fishing apparatus for fishing tasks around the Chatham Islands could be the plastic source found at their nesting sites.

Plastic found in the stomachs of jumping seabirds like the Dingy Shearwater was mostly hard, white/dark, and were round plastic objects. The specialists believed that ingestion of these plastics was mostly accidental, especially if the birds ate fish that might have consumed plastic.The ingestion of marine plastics is a critical issue for seabird protection and will affect 99 per cent of the seabird species by 2050, as indicated by figures.

(Sources: The Hindustan Times, Sciencedaily, Geographical)

Edited by: Ritish

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