Auklet (Charadriiformes: Alcidae, Aethia spp.) chick meals from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, have a very low incidence of plastic marine debris

Alexander L. Bond, Ian L. Jones, Jeffrey C. Williams, G. Vernon Byrd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The ingestion of plastic marine debris is a chronic problem for some of the world's seabird species, contributing to reduced chick survival, population declines, and deposition of contaminants via absorption in birds' gastrointestinal tract. We analysed the frequency of ingested plastic in chick meals delivered by adults in four species of auklet - Crested (Aethia cristatella), Least (A. pusilla), Parakeet (A. psittacula), and Whiskered (A. pygmaea) - from three breeding colonies in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA over a 14-year period from 1993 to 2006. Among 2541 chick meals, we found plastic in only one - from a Whiskered Auklet on Buldir Island in 1993. While adult Parakeet Auklets have a high frequency of plastic ingestion (over 90%), no chick meals contained plastic. Unlike other seabirds, the planktivorous auklets do not appear to offload plastic to their chicks, and we conclude that auklet chicks are probably at a low risk of contamination from plastic debris.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1346-1349
Number of pages4
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume60
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Aethia
  • Aleutian Islands
  • Auklet
  • Marine debris
  • North Pacific Ocean
  • Plastic

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