Newfoundland, Canada can be an inhospitable place in the dead of winter. In January 2013, a unfortunate mass die-off of Dovekies (Alle alle) created an opportunity to document their levels of plastic ingestion. Our research, recently published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, found that nearly one third of the seabirds had ingested at least one piece of plastic. This is the highest recorded ingestion rate ever found for Dovekies in this area, or elsewhere.
Unfortunately, our ability to understand the cause of this increase is undermined by the inconsistent methods past studies have used to document plastic ingestion. Using comparable methods is paramount, since each study is meant to add a piece to a global puzzle so that the scientific community can track trends in plastic ingestion in wildlife. This Newfoundland-based study provides a great example of just how important using standardized methods really is.
The publication is available here.
Additional coverage on the story is available here: http://meopar.ca/news/entry/mass-seabird-die-off-an-opportunity-for-plastic-ingestion-research