While seabird deaths due to swallowing plastic debris or becoming entangled in it have received global attention, the non-lethal effects on seabirds that survive plastic ingestion are less well-known.
The study led by IMAS' Dr Jennifer Lavers and published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has found that plastic ingestion can have a significant negative impact even on superficially healthy seabirds.
Research - Scientists - Lord - Howe - Island
The research, which included scientists from Lord Howe Island Museum and the UK's Natural History Museum, analysed blood and plastic samples collected from Flesh-footed Shearwaters on Lord Howe Island.
"Flesh-footed Shearwaters populations are declining across the south west Pacific Ocean and Western Australia's south coast," Dr Lavers said.
Ingestion - Decline - Mechanisms - Shearwaters
"Plastic ingestion has been implicated in this decline but the mechanisms by which it affects shearwaters are poorly understood.
"Our study found that birds which ingested plastic had reduced blood calcium levels, body mass, wing length, and head and bill length.
Presence - Plastic - Impact - Birds - Kidney
"The presence of plastic also had a negative impact on the birds' kidney function, causing a higher concentration of uric acid,...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
Does it ever seem that life has become one long rerun?