Less plastics in stomachs of fulmars

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Less plastic in stomachs of fulmars

Published on
November 24, 2016

Plastic marine litter, both industrial granules and consumer wastes decline slowly but with certainty. For some years, this tendency was already present. Now, the addition of the data of monitoring year 2015 to the time series of plastic ingestion by Northern Fulmars has shown a statistically significant trend.

Awareness seems to take effect

It is not possibly to pinpoint a single clear cause. But the public attention for the plastic soup and the garbage patches in the oceanic gyres seem to gradually take effect. Awareness has grown among all sectors, policy and general public. This is a small improvement in the quality of the North Sea environment, but we are not yet there!

93% of Northern fulmars has plastic in the stomach

Currently, still 93% of beached fulmars has plastic in the stomach, on average 23 particles with a mass of 0.29 gram of plastic per bird. About 53% of the birds had more than 0.1 gram of plastic in the stomach, whereas North Sea countries have agreed to a policy target in which no more than 10% of the fulmars may exceed that threshold. So, there is still a major job ahead, but we appear to be on the right track.

Fulmar Litter EcoQO monitoring in the Netherlands - Update 2015 Author(s): J.A. van Franeker, S. Kühn & E.L. Bravo Rebolledo Publication date: 11-10-2016 Wageningen Marine
On average, present day beached fulmars have only 2 to 3 industrial plastic pellets in their stomach, and approximately five times as much mass of plastic consumer debris. But stomach contents are highly variable and the photo shows stomach contents of a fulmar that had ingested 13 pellets and a roughly similar amount of various fragments.
On average, present day beached fulmars have only 2 to 3 industrial plastic pellets in their stomach, and approximately five times as much mass of plastic consumer debris. But stomach contents are highly variable and the photo shows stomach contents of a fulmar that had ingested 13 pellets and a roughly similar amount of various fragments.
During the early 1980s, industrial pellets of different types were a common feature in nearly every new tideline. Nowadays, such chronic pollution seems replaced by more incidental occurrences of a single type of pellet.
During the early 1980s, industrial pellets of different types were a common feature in nearly every new tideline. Nowadays, such chronic pollution seems replaced by more incidental occurrences of a single type of pellet.
Balloon remains ingested by a fulmar. Balloon rubber fragments, ingested by wildlife are a recurrent issue in public interest and media attention. They appear in roughly 2% of stomachs opened in the fulmar monitoring study.
Balloon remains ingested by a fulmar. Balloon rubber fragments, ingested by wildlife are a recurrent issue in public interest and media attention. They appear in roughly 2% of stomachs opened in the fulmar monitoring study.