New Study: Plastic Fragments in Seabird Stomachs

New Study: Plastic Fragments in Seabird Stomachs

Mediterranean Sea, March 1, 2014 (PBBR) - Plastic debris in our oceans is killing seabirds. A new study released by the European Commission's Science for Environment Policy brings this fact to the forefront of plastic pollution.

One of the main reasons for plastic bag bans is to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. Studies by the United Nations have proven that plastic in the pelagic environment doesn't go away - it just photo-degrades. Plastic just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and remains in the ocean. Marine litter outweighs plankton by a 6-1 margin with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean.(1)

Plastic bags can entangle marine life and cause harm or death to the animal. Pieces of plastic floating in the ocean looks like food to fish, turtles, and seabirds. Seabirds, thinking they've spotted food, swoop down and ingest the plastic which then blocks their stomach and digestive system, causing starvation.

This new study has documented extremely high levels of plastic in the contents of the stomach of seabirds. One of the most affected is the Balearic Shearwater (cover photo) off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. This species is on the "Critically Endangered" list.

Read the report on the new study: Plastic pollution measured in Mediterranean seabirds.

References:

1.      UNEP.org: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=480&ArticleID=5300&l=en

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