Elevated levels of plastic ingestion in a high-Arctic seabird

A.M. Trevail, G.W. Gabrielsen, S. Kuhn, J.A. van Franeker

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Plastic pollution is of worldwide concern, however increases in international commercial activity in the Arctic are occurring without knowledge of the existing threat posted to the local marine environment by plastic litter. Here, we quantify plastic ingestion by northern fulmars, Fulmarus glacialis, from Svalbard, at the gateway to future shipping routes in the high Arctic. Plastic ingestion by Svalbard fulmars does not follow the established decreasing trend away from human marine impact. Of 40 sampled individuals, 35 {87.5%) had plastic in their stomachs, averaging at 0.08g or 15.3 pieces per individual. Critically, plastic ingestion levels on Svalbard exceed the ecological quality objective defined by OSPAR for European seas. Furthermore we present analytica! results that
suggest a tissue chemica! burden that results from plastic ingestion. Such chemicals may cause disruption to the endocrine and immune system of birds, and thus the potential for population-scale effects are evident. This highlights an urgent need for mitigation of plastic pollution in the Arctic as well as international regulation of future commercial activity. The picture attached shows an example of the stomach plastic content from one fulmar on Svalbard. Scale bar is lcm.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventWorld Seabird Conference II - Kaapstad, South Africa
Duration: 12 Oct 201516 Oct 2015


ConferenceWorld Seabird Conference II
Country/TerritorySouth Africa


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