Seabirds Eating Plastic Debris

I just read this very interesting article about seabirds eating plastic debris in the Ocean. It has been known for awhile that seabirds consume plastic debris because they are often found on remote beaches dead with guts full of plastic. What was unknown until recently is why. The article below describes the process but here it in a nutshell: basically the plastic is made out of petroleum and acts like oil full of fat molecules or lipids and absorbs other fatty things in the ocean, termed “lipophilic” or likes fats, like algae and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) or PCBs, PBDE (flame retardants ), DDT and DDE. So the floating plastic debris is thought to be attractive to sea birds because it absorbs floating algae on its surface which is full of plant based proteins and fats which is what the ocean going sea birds like albatross and petrels have evolved to eat. The floating plastic debris acts like an algae sponge as well as a POP sponge and actually smells like algae stimulating the birds to eat a piece of plastic that is harmful not only because it is hard and indigestible causing a blocking but is also chuck full of pollutants. The end results is a bird full of plastic debris instead of food and causing the bird to become sick and die an early death. This is a huge problem and one that OGP is committed towards solving.

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-seabirds-plastic-20161111-story.html




Scott McKinnon
Scott McKinnon

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