News

Detonation cord in the stomach of a fulmar

Published on
November 9, 2020

Recently, our German colleague Nils Guse published an interesting short paper in the journal SULA of the Dutch Seabird Group (NZG).

Objects encountered in fulmar stomachs are often hard to recognize. But occasionally by chance, we learn to identify the items that are found. Since 2017 remarkable quantities of damaged hollow plastic threads were found on the beaches of the Faroe Islands. These proved to have their origin in rock blasting in quarries and tunnelworks where basalt rocks were removed by explosives. By dumping the excavated basalt rocks, for example in harbour construction, the remains of detonating cords were introduced in the marine environment.

<L CODE="C03">Jens-Kjeld Jensen</L> broke the news of the pollution with detonation cords on the Faroe Islands
Jens-Kjeld Jensen broke the news of the pollution with detonation cords on the Faroe Islands

Everywhere

After learning about the pollution with detonation cords on the Faroe Islands, it was noted that these cords are omnipresent in our environment and were for example also found on the Dutch beach. But worse, during dissections in early 2020, a piece of detonation cord was found in the stomach of a fulmar that had beached in Germany in 2011. Without our knowledge of the events on the Faroe Islands this plastic string would not have been recognized. This is how we gradually learn to identify rubbish found in the stomachs of fulmars.

Alongside a number of unidentified bits of plastic, threads and sheets, the stomach of fulmar GER-2011-042 contained a ±20cm long detonation cord.
Alongside a number of unidentified bits of plastic, threads and sheets, the stomach of fulmar GER-2011-042 contained a ±20cm long detonation cord.

All stomach contents

Images of plastics in the stomachs of all fulmars investigated provide the best overall information of the problem of plastic ingestion. The downloadable ‘finders’ document provides information and images on all the German fulmars investigated during the autopsy session in early 2020. Download this document at edepot.

A composition photo of all stomach contents of the German samples studied in this session.
A composition photo of all stomach contents of the German samples studied in this session.