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Nearly Every Seabird On The Planet Has Waste Plastic In Its Stomach

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-19-04 10:08 AM
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Nearly Every Seabird On The Planet Has Waste Plastic In Its Stomach
ALMOST every seabird in the world has waste plastic inside it. The stomachs of fulmars in the North Sea, storm petrels in the Antarctic and albatrosses in Hawaii have all been found to contain plastic discarded by consumers or industry. Some of the birds have eaten hundreds of plastic fragments and many have died as a result. Its a disgrace for humankind that we have so much unnecessary rubbish, says Dr Jan van Franeker, a Dutch marine biologist. We should respect other forms of life on this planet, not offload our problems onto them.

Franeker is a world expert on plastic waste at sea who has been leading a Save the North Sea research project funded by European governments for the past two years. Last week, at the Alterra laboratory on the Dutch island of Texel, he revealed his results exclusively to the Sunday Herald.

The scale and extent of the plastic pollution he has uncovered is staggering. Nineteen out of every 20 dead fulmars analysed by his team from around the North Sea had plastic in them. Each bird had swallowed an average of 44 pieces, weighing a total of 0.33 grams. One fulmar found in Belgium had ingested 1603 pieces, while another from Denmark had 20.6 grams of plastic in its stomach equivalent to two kilograms in a human-sized stomach.

Franeker said toxic additives in the plastic can poison the birds while sharp fragments can damage or puncture their stomachs. Birds with stomachs full of plastic also ate less and grew weak. Fulmars were chosen for investigation because they are a good indicator species for illustrating the damage that plastic litter is doing to all marine life, he said. If you look long enough, you can find it in almost any seabird worldwide.

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