Plastic ingestion and trace element contamination of Manx shearwaters Puffinus puffinus on the Faroe Islands

Procellariiform seabirds can accumulate high levels of plastic in their gastrointestinal tracts, which can cause physical damage and potentially provides a contamination route for trace elements. We examined plastic ingestion and trace element contamination of fledgling Manx shearwaters Puffinus puffinus that were harvested for human consumption in 2003 and 2018 on Skúvoy, Faroe Islands (North Atlantic Ocean). Overall, 88% of fledglings contained plastic in their gastrointestinal tracts, with a mean (± SD) of 7.2 ± 6.6 items weighing 0.007 ± 0.016 g. Though the incidence was similar, fledglings ingested significantly more plastic in 2018 compared to 2003. Hepatic trace element concentrations were unrelated to plastic ingestion. Hepatic carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope values were significantly lower in birds sampled in 2018 versus 2003, potentially reflecting further offshore feeding at lower trophic levels. Future research is needed to understand the extent of plastic ingestion by Faroe Islands seabirds


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Authors: Mills, William F., Norris, Catrin, Black, Stuart, Phillips, Richard A., Hammer, Sjúrður, Olsen, Bergur, Danielsen, Jóhannis

On this site: Richard Phillips
4 June, 2024
Marine Pollution Bulletin / 204
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