Marine birds and plastics themed Twitter session, summary and storified!

On August 22nd, 2015 I was privileged to host a themed #Seabirdersaturday discussion on Twitter.  The discussion focused mostly around the work that is currently being done, some trends being found, and what are some areas of research that are lacking. Those who took part were great, and the hour flew by!

I want to thank Sjurdur Hammer (@sjurdur) for bringing the tweets all together using Storify so that people can view the discussions in one place. If you missed the discussion, or even if you were a part of the discussion, you can view all the tweets here (

I also want to thank all those that tweeted in with their own examples of plastics seabird interactions. Gannets seem to be particularly prone to plastic entanglement in their nests. RSPB Ramsey Island shared this, and we also talked about this in Canadian gannets in our plastic review in Canadian Seabirds (Provencher et al. 2015; get it here).

RSPB tweet

We also talked about ingested plastics being found in pellets. Andy Denton (@Choccybear85) shared some plastics he had found in a boxie pellet. I think that monitoring plastics in pellets can lead to some great research questions, and can be used for a number of species where carcasses are rare. 

Boxie pellet

We also discussed that many inland birds and gulls are particularly underutilized currently as sentinels of plastics. Gulls colonies are easy to access, often large in size, and distributed widely across many landscapes. This makes them excellent sentinels for assessing and tracking plastic pollution in the environment.

We ended the discussion about where plastic-seabird interaction research needs to go next. In many ways we have done the easy work at showing that seabirds do have negative interactions with plastics, so in most cases what is needed is to target species that are sentinels and explore what the effects are of plastics, and in my opinion, what are the cumulative effects of plastics with other environmental stressors. Plastics may not be the one thing that really negatively impacts a bird, but it may be one of the many small straws that we are piling on their backs.

Concluding remarks from the session:

1 and 23thanks



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