Plastics in stomachs of northern fulmars Fulmarus glacialis collected at sea off east Greenland: latitude, age, sex and season

Jan A. van Franeker*, Jens Kjeld Jensen, Poul Johannes Simonsen, Elisa L. Bravo Rebolledo, Susanne Kühn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A sample of 145 stomachs from fulmars hunted 100 km offshore east Greenland 64° 30′ N in early June 2015 was analysed for abundance of plastic litter. Overall, 86% of the stomachs contained plastics with an average of 13.5 particles, and 0.14 g per stomach. A proportion of 42% of the stomachs exceeded the level of 0.1 g plastic, whereas the international policy target aims at a reduction to less than 10%. The observed quantity of ingested plastic fits a pattern of reduced plastic abundance at higher latitudes, at greater distance from densely populated and industrialised areas. A subsample of 20 fulmars of known age and sex indicated that young birds contained more plastic than adults, and females more than males. Indirect evidence from age and sex composition in the full sample supported these findings. Further confirmation was found in literature and by re-analysis of earlier datasets. Differences in colony attendance could explain the combined effects of age, sex, and possibly season on plastic abundance in the stomachs. With a consistent monitoring sampling regime, such variations do not impair the results, but for evaluation of regional patterns from incidental observations or the planning of new monitoring schemes they are important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalMarine Biology
Volume169
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Age
  • Colony attendance
  • Fulmarus glacialis
  • Latitude
  • Plastic ingestion
  • Regional pattern
  • Sample composition
  • Season
  • Sex

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