During dissection of some stomachs of the Scottish Shetland Islands we encountered a stomach in which plastics were directly visible. Master student Anastasia O'Donoghue used her mobile phone to quickly take some short video footage.
In our monitoring studies of plastics in stomachs of northern fulmars from the North Sea area, more than nine out of ten birds' stomachs contain some plastic. However, often this concerns inconspicuous smaller particles hidden in the other contents.
But sometimes the presence of plastics is immediately evident. MSc student Anastasia O’Donoghue is doing a project on plastics in fish stomachs with Wageningen Marine Research in Den Helder, but also likes to help with other lines of our plastic research. During dissection of some stomachs of the Scottish Shetland Islands, we encountered a stomach in which plastics were directly visible. Anastasia used her mobile phone to quickly take some short video footage and photo’s.
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Fulmars actually have two stomachs. The first one is a large glandular stomach (proventriculus) in which plastics are less common. This first stomach is followed by a small strongly muscular one (gizzard) in which harder food remains (and plastics) are grinded to a size that allows passage into the gut. With this bird, it was immediately clear that the gizzard was full of plastic and many large fragments had accumulated in the glandular stomach.
After cleaning, drying and weighing of the plastics, the Shetland bird could be shown to contain nearly 5 grams of plastic. In the North Sea area, fulmars on average have about 0.3 gram of plastics, so this bird truly is an extreme example. Plastic fragments are usually not traceable, but this stomach contained a fragment clearly originating from the plastic cap of a jar of Nestlé instant coffee.