According to Camille Bains of Canadian Press, the northern fulmars donít regurgitate the plastic bits they pick up. On the one hand, that means they donít pass them on to chicks. Unfortunately, the plastic can stay in their systems and causes blockages or illnesses.
North Sea scientists have been using beached northern fulmars to study plastic pollution for the last thirty years. The new study shows that plastic pollution in the Northwest is similar to that in the North Sea.
Stephanie Avery-Gromm, lead author and graduate student in the University of British Columbiaís Department of Zoology, said:
Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans. Their stomach content provides a Ďsnapshotí sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean.
Karen Barry of Bird Studies Canada, who co-authored the study added:
Beached bird surveys are providing important clues about causes and patterns of sea bird mortality from oil spill impacts, fisheries by-catch and now plastic ingestion.
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Photo 1: Non-food stomach content found in a northern fulmar in the UBC study. (Photo: StephanieAvery-Gomm, UBC); Photo 2: Northern fulmar photo via JAC6.FLICKR via Flickr Creative Commons
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