Plastic Ingestion by Storm-Petrels

Plastic Ingestion by Storm-Petrels

Here is a study of Leach’s Storm-petrels and how much plastic is ingested by the bird. The study was conducted in Newfoundland, Canada.

The researchers found that 48% of the birds contained plastic, some up to 17 pieces of plastic. It was also determined that plastic ingestion has increased in this species in the Northwest Atlantic. Here is the abstract of the study.

Effectiveness of emetics to study plastic ingestion by Leach’s Storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)

Alexander L. Bonda, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
Jennifer L. Laversb, 1

a Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, and Environment Canada, 11 Innovation Boulevard, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 3H5
b Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, Tasmania 7005, Australia


Most plastic ingestion studies rely on dissection of dead birds, which are found opportunistically, and may be biased. We used Leach’s Storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) in Newfoundland to study the effect of dose volume, and the efficacy of emesis using syrup of ipecac as an emetic. Ipecac is a safe method of non-lethally sampling stomach contents, and recovered all ingested plastic.

Almost half the storm-petrels sampled had ingested plastic, ranging from 0 to 17 pieces, and weighing 0.2–16.9 mg. Using the Ecological Quality Objective for Northern Fulmars, adjusted for storm-petrels smaller size, 43% exceeded the threshold of 0.0077 g of plastic.

Many adult seabirds offload plastic to their offspring, so storm-petrel chicks likely experience a higher plastic burden than their parents. The ability to study plastic ingestion non-lethally allows researchers to move from opportunistic and haphazard sampling to hypothesis-driven studies on a wider range of taxa and age classes.

Link to study: