Quantitative overview of marine debris ingested by marine megafauna

Susanne Kühn*, Jan Andries van Franeker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


This review quantifies plastic interaction in marine biota. Firstly, entanglement and ingestion records for all marine birds, mammals, turtles, fish, and invertebrate species, are summarized from 747 studies. Marine debris affected 914 species through entanglement and/or ingestion. Ingestion was recorded for 701 species, entanglement was documented for 354 species. Secondly, the frequency of occurrence of ingestion per species (Sp-%FO) was extracted for marine birds, mammals and turtles. Thirdly, for seabird species, average numbers of plastics ingested per individual were determined. Highest Sp-%FO and average number of plastics were found in tubenosed seabirds with 41% of all birds analysed having plastics, on average 9.9 particles per bird. The Sp-%FO and average number of ingested particles is lower for most other species. However, for certain species, ingestion rates of litter are reason for serious concern. Standardized methods are crucial for future studies, to generate datasets that allow higher level ecosystem analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110858
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Entanglement
  • Ingestion
  • Marine mammals
  • Plastic litter
  • Seabirds
  • Turtles


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