Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles
Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Microplastic, Pollution, Seabird
Plastic pollution is increasingly recognized as a global problem. In particular, plastic pieces <5 mm in size (‘microplastics’) are of interest due to their prevalence and association with harmful, persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Very little is known about the prevalence of microplastics in coastal birds. Yet, these water-associated birds are at a high risk of ingesting microplastics that accumulate near the water’s surface. This study describes the microplastics found in the proventriculus and ventriculus of four species of coastal birds regarding quantity, size, type (fiber or fragment), and color (light, mid, or dark). A total of 643 microplastic particles were identified, with 43 of the 44 study specimens containing microplastics (97.7% frequency). The ‘fiber’ type and the ‘mid’ color were the most common microplastics. There were no significant differences between species for particle sizes, but Brown Pelicans contained significantly more particles than the other three species. These results highlight the prevalence of plastic pollution in medium-sized seabirds, but more work is needed to determine microplastic patterns between taxa and foraging environments.
Jonathan J. Clark, Dorothy-Ellen A. Renegar, and Dave Kerstetter. 2022. Ubiquitous microplastics in the upper gastrointestinal tracts of Florida coastal seabirds .Florida Scientist , (3-4) : 91 -102. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/1293.
We thank the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center and the South Florida Wildlife Center for providing the bird specimens and C. Blanar (Nova Southeastern University) for access to the stereomicroscope.