Plastic litter and fur seals in Antarctica

Nieuws

Plastic litter and fur seals in Antarctica

Gepubliceerd op
29 december 2015

Together with the Chilean Antarctic Institute and the British Antarctic Survey, IMARES has started an investigation of plastic litter, large and small, in the Antarctic. The focus in this research is on plastics and Fur seals. Commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs we conducted a first series of analyses with results published a preliminary report.

Scats of fur seals were collected on the Antarctic Peninsula and the subantarctic South Georgia. These faecal remains were analysed for food as well as the presence of plastic debris. In a small number of cases, plastics were found, likely ingested by the fur seals through fish in their diet. Subantarctic seals had more often ingested debris than those from the Antarctic Peninsula. These are valuable baseline data to follow the spread of microplastics in the global oceans. Around the Chilean base at Cape Shirreff further research was done into presence of microplastic in coastal sediments, the abundance of macro-litter on the beaches, and entanglement of wildlife. Fortunately the latter was restricted to a single fur seal and a single chinstrap penguin.

Report

Bravo Rebolledo, E.L & Van Franeker, J.A. 2015. Impact of marine debris on Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella at Cape Shirreff: diet dependent ingestion and entanglement. Preliminary results. IMARES Report, project BO-11-018.02-044. Dec.2015. 7pp.

Photo 1: Antarctic fur seal faeces on Cape Sherriff (photo: Elisa Bravo Rebolledo)
Photo 1: Antarctic fur seal faeces on Cape Sherriff (photo: Elisa Bravo Rebolledo)

Photo 2: Examples of plastic particles found in Antarctic fur seal scat samples
Photo 2: Examples of plastic particles found in Antarctic fur seal scat samples

Photo 3: Left photo: Antarctic fur seal female entangled in a nylon fishing rope (photo: Piet-Wim van Leeuwen). Right photo: Chinstrap penguin with half ingested rope (photo: Wiley Archibald)
Photo 3: Left photo: Antarctic fur seal female entangled in a nylon fishing rope (photo: Piet-Wim van Leeuwen). Right photo: Chinstrap penguin with half ingested rope (photo: Wiley Archibald)

Photo 4: Collecting sediment samples from area 4
Photo 4: Collecting sediment samples from area 4

Photo 5: Different types of macro-debris (photo: Piet-Wim van Leeuwen)
Photo 5: Different types of macro-debris (photo: Piet-Wim van Leeuwen)

Read more in the Dossiers: