Marine debris ingestion by albatrosses in the southwest Atlantic Ocean
Plastics and other marine debris affect wildlife through entanglement and by ingestion. We assessed the ingestion of marine debris by seven albatross species in the southwest Atlantic by analyzing stomach contents of birds killed in fisheries. Of the 128 specimens examined, including four Diomedea species (n = 78) and three Thalassarche species (n = 50), 21 (16.4%) contained 1–4 debris items, mainly in the ventriculus. The most common type was plastic fragments. Debris was most frequent in Diomedea species (25.6%) and, particularly, Diomedea sanfordi (38.9%) and very rare in Thalassarche species (2.0%), presumably reflecting differences in foraging behavior or distribution. Frequency of occurrence was significantly higher in male than female Diomedea albatrosses (39.3% vs. 18.0%). Although levels of accumulated debris were relatively low overall, and unlikely to result in gut blockage, associated toxins might nevertheless represent a health risk for Diomedea albatrosses, compounding the negative impact of other human activities on these threatened species.
Authors: Jiménez, Sebastián, Domingo, Andrés, Brazeiro, Alejandro, Defeo, Omar, Phillips, Richard A.