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A Northwestern Pacific metric of pelagic marine debris: plastic ingestion by Black-footed Albatross from Kure Atoll, Hawai’i.

Released: 2012
Citation:
Titmus, A. J., M. Hester, P. E. Michael, J. Adams, C.Vanderlip, and K. D. Hyrenbach. A Northwestern Pacific metric of pelagic marine debris: plastic ingestion by Black-footed Albatross from Kure Atoll, Hawai’i. Pacific Seabird Group 39th Annual Meeting 7-10 February, 2012, Turtle Bay, HI.

Black-footed (Phoebastria nigripes) Albatross ingest plastic at sea, which they deliver to their chicks on breeding colonies. We characterized the amounts and types of ingested plastic using regurgitated boluses (n = 25 in 2008 and 2009) on Kure Atoll, the westernmost Hawaiian colony. These analyses yielded information on the volume and mass of four plastic types (fragments, line, sheets, foam) and three natural item categories (squid beaks, other food, other non-food). The mass and volume of these categories were significantly correlated (p<0.001), with different slopes indicative of their varying densities. A comparison of the bolus composition across years revealed that only the proportional mass of sheets was different (higher in 2008, p<0.001). Combining years, plastic composed 62.8% and 27.1 g of the bolus mass, with the following relative plastic composition: line (45.0% and 11.9 g), foam (30.8% and 8.8 g), fragments (19.7% and 5.3 g), and sheets (2008; 5.1% and 1.2 g, 2009; 3.4% and 0.9 g). To characterize albatross foraging areas, we tracked seven albatross with Argos transmitters in May-June 2008. These birds completed 15 foraging loops west of their colony, and foraged over oceanic waters and seamounts, where they spent 65.5% (9.73%SD) and 9.2% (3.51%SD) of their time, respectively. These results underscore the use of albatross as bio-sensors of pelagic plastic and suggest high levels of marine debris in the western North Pacific.


This product is associated with the following project:
Summary of Seabird Studies at WERC

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