The use of beached bird surveys for marine plastic litter monitoring in Ireland

 

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Hi everyone!

It’s been a while now. In the last few months I have been busy with lab work and writing up, so there hasn’t been much time or exciting news to blog about, but I’m happy to say now that our first results on the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Surveys have just been published! I have teamed up with great co-authors to improve the work and get some baseline work on seabirds and marine litter for Ireland out there!

About 27% of the birds we have sampled, from 12 different species,  have ingested plastics. It’s frightening, but we can do something about it by reducing, re-using and disposing responsibly of our plastics. And of course, collecting beached birds for more research. There is always more research to be done!

You can download our new paper on the link below for free during the next 50 days! Or email us if you have any trouble doing so.

The use of beached bird surveys for marine litter monitoring in Ireland

BIG thanks to all the RIBBS volunteers. This work is also yours!

Heidi Acampora

 

 

World Seabird Conference

This last October I’ve had the chance to attend the 2nd World Seabird Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa. I was scheduled to give a talk about the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey (RIBBS) and how to use stranding events and wrecks to monitor for marine litter in seabirds as a mean to comply with marine policy. The title of my presentation was “Assessing the Utility of Seabird Wrecks for Plastic Debris Monitoring”. This was placed in a Symposia within the conference focused on ‘The Impacts of Marine Debris on Seabirds’.

Apart from giving a presentation, I thoroughly enjoyed this conference very much. For a whole week, 562 delegates from 52 different countries have gathered to present, discuss and learn more about seabird focused research around the world. It was exciting to see all these amazing things people have been working on and studying across the globe!

Along  with the Marine Debris sessions, I very much enjoyed the sessions about ‘Diet Monitoring’, ‘Food and Foraging Areas’ and ‘Seabirds as Indicators of Ocean Health’, this last one being my favorite. All of these have added insights and bits of knowledge for my personal research. But it was also very nice to learn new things about different and endemic species from South Africa, for example. We have all enjoyed the African penguin and Cape Gannets talks for sure🙂

All in all, it was an amazing week and I came back a little wrecked, but also charged with enthusiasm about doing amazing seabird things🙂 I also managed to enjoy the beautiful views of Cape Town and its amazing wildlife. Photos will speak for themselves!

If you are interested in having a look at the conference program, it is available for download here.

If you would like to keep an eye on the website for future conferences, click here.

There was also a very cool video made by researchers around the world giving a quick summary on their work in their own countries. You can view it here.

First day at Cape Town. Table Mountain partially covered by clouds - ©HeidiAcampora

First day at Cape Town. Table Mountain partially covered by clouds – ©HeidiAcampora

Camps Bay looking mighty – ©HeidiAcampora

This is how Cape Town looks like from the top of Table Mountain - ©HeidiAcampora

This is how Cape Town looks like from the top of Table Mountain – ©HeidiAcampora

You all know I love puffins :)

Let the conference begin! You all know I love puffins :) – ©HeidiAcampora

Yours truly presenting at a very big and intimidating auditorium - ©AlejandroSotillo

Yours truly presenting at a very big and intimidating auditorium – ©AlejandroSotillo

African penguins enjoy the day at the beach as you should - ©HeidiAcampora

African penguins enjoy the day at the beach as you should – ©HeidiAcampora

We ran into baboons on our way to Cape of Good Hope - ©HeidiAcampora

We ran into baboons on our way to Cape of Good Hope – ©HeidiAcampora

It's hard to resist baby baboons! - ©HeidiAcampora

It’s hard to resist baby baboons! – ©HeidiAcampora

Beautiful walk to the Cape of Good Hope - ©HeidiAcampora

Beautiful walk to the Cape of Good Hope – ©HeidiAcampora

And then there was a true seabird meeting! - ©HeidiAcampora

And then there was a true seabird meeting! – ©HeidiAcampora

And then elephants - ©HeidiAcampora

And then elephants – ©HeidiAcampora

... and then zebras - ©HeidiAcampora

… and then zebras – ©HeidiAcampora

... and giraffes - ©HeidiAcampora

… and giraffes – ©HeidiAcampora

And finally, some seabird nerds road tripping😉 – ©HeidiAcampora

Published by Heidi Acampora

Seabird Colony Work

Summer is almost over in Europe (was it ever here in Ireland though?) and I finally have some desk time to keep you all updated on our Seabird/Marine Litter work. I’ve acquired a license to work on the seabird colonies over the Summer and collect some samples for my PhD project. As most of you is aware, I am studying plastic litter ingestion by seabirds and how that can be used to monitor marine litter and influence policy, and there are different ways to approach/tackle this research. As pollutants are known to be more readily adsorbed on the surface of marine plastic litter, we wanted to look at the contaminants load present in ‘Irish’ seabirds. I had the chance to visit some really nice breeding colonies, work with some really nice people, along with BirdWatch Ireland and collect samples such as feathers and preen oil from different species of seabirds. As the birds are ringed, they might spontaneously regurgitate stomach contents, as a defense mecanism or a reaction to stress. I took advantage of that and collected regurgitates for our plastics research. And of course, I collected eventual carcasses found around the colonies, being that adults or juveniles.

Now I have loads of lab work to be done over the next few cold months, but that should give us some interesting results and I can’t wait to find out! A huge thanks to everyone who has helped me over the Summer with the field work, especially BirdWatch Ireland, Niall Keogh and my supervisor Ian O’Connor.

Also, our Beached Bird Surveys are still running. As the weather gets a bit rougher with the end of the Summer, we should have a few more seabird ‘casualties’. They have reduced a little over the Summer, but I was still able to get some beached birds now and again. Thanks to all the great volunteers all over the ROI. Please, keep an eye on your regular beaches and report/collect any suitable seabird carcasses you may come across. It’s for a good cause🙂

Now I’ll leave you all with a nice photo summary of the colony work!

Many auks at Lambay Island - ©HeidiAcampora

Many auks at Lambay Island – ©HeidiAcampora

A closer look at guillemots at Lambay Island - ©HeidiAcampora

A closer look at guillemots at Lambay Island – ©HeidiAcampora

A bridled guillemot at Lambay Island - ©HeidiAcampora

A bridled guillemot at Lambay Island – ©HeidiAcampora

A few Razorbills at Lambay Island - ©Heidi Acampora

A few Razorbills at Lambay Island – ©Heidi Acampora

A Northern Fulmar at Lambay Island - ©HeidiAcampora

A Northern Fulmar at Lambay Island – ©HeidiAcampora

Yep. Still in Ireland. Wallabies have been brought by men to Lambay Island many years ago and have successfully reproduced and established a small population - ©HeidiAcampora

Yep. Still in Ireland. Wallabies have been brought by men to Lambay Island many years ago and have successfully reproduced and established a small population – ©HeidiAcampora

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A Great Black-backed Gull chick in nest at Lambay Island- ©HeidiAcampora

Rockabill Island seen from the Bill. It is home to the largest tern colony in Europe - ©HeidiAcampora

Rockabill Island seen from the Bill. It is home to the largest tern colony in Europe – ©HeidiAcampora

Terns flying over the lighthouse at Rockabill Island - ©HeidiAcampora

Terns flying over the lighthouse at Rockabill Island – ©HeidiAcampora

The sign says it all at Rockabill Island - ©HeidiAcampora

The sign says it all at Rockabill Island – ©HeidiAcampora

Tern fledglings fill the helipad at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

Tern fledglings fill the helipad at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

Lots of work being done at Rockabill Island - ©HeidiAcampora

Lots of work being done at Rockabill Island – ©NiallKeogh

Team work with the Rockabill wardens Brian Burke and Andrew Power - ©NiallKeogh

Team work with the Rockabill wardens Brian Burke and Andrew Power – ©NiallKeogh

A common tern close up at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

A common tern close up at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

Myself looking very pleased sampling a Roseate Tern at Rockabill - ©BrianBurke

Myself looking very pleased sampling a Roseate Tern at Rockabill – ©BrianBurke

Some black guillemots and kittiwakes at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

Some black guillemots and kittiwakes at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

Common tern parent and chick at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

Common tern parent and chick at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

Kittiwake families enjoying the sunny Saturday at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

Kittiwake families enjoying the sunny Saturday at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

A sleepy common tern chick at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

A sleepy common tern chick at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

Some grey seal pups enjoy the rare sunny weather at Rockabill - ©HeidiAcampora

Some grey seal pups enjoy the rare sunny weather at Rockabill – ©HeidiAcampora

Gannet colony at Great Saltee Island - ©HeidiAcampora

Gannet colony at Great Saltee Island – ©HeidiAcampora

A Northern Fulmar chick looking pleased after regurgitating on us at Great Saltee Island - ©HeidiAcampora

A Northern Fulmar chick looking pleased after regurgitating on us at Great Saltee Island – ©HeidiAcampora

Night sampling Storm Petrels at Portacloy - ©HeidiAcampora

Night sampling Storm Petrels at Portacloy – ©NiallKeogh

Published by Heidi Acampora

Marine Anthropogenic Litter

Over the year I have been putting together a chapter to contribute towards a Springer published Open Access book “Marine Anthropogenic Litter”. The book is an expansive summary of the state of knowledge on all aspects of marine anthropogenic litter, including the distribution and biological implications of plastics and microplastics, as well as the socio-economic implications.

© Springer

A few months ago I received my copy of Marine Anthropogenic Litter. The book has been made available through open access, which means you can download the whole book, or separate chapters at the links below.

The book was published in June 2015, and I have enjoyed dipping into each of the chapters to read the other authors contributions. The editors, Melanie Bergmann and Lars Gutow from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and Michael Klages from the University of Gothenburg’s Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, brought together a huge variety of experts to contribute.

The book consists of 5 sections: A historical synopsis of marine litter research,abiotic aspects of litter pollution, biological and ecological implications of marine litter, microplastics,

I’ve tried to summarise each of the 16 chapter in two sentences and if you click on the title it will take you to the whole chapter on the springer website.

I had a great time contributing to this book (Chapter 10!), and hope you enjoy reading it.

Published by Amy Lusher

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Chapter summaries

1. A brief History of Marine Litter Research. Ryan.

As the title says, the history of marine litter research and the rapid development of the topic and key conferences. From the first reports of entanglement and ingestion in the 1960s to the current focus on microplastics and associated chemicals transferring to the marine food web.

2. Global Distribution, Composition and Abundance of Marine Litter. Galgani et al.

Describes marine litter, primarily plastics, global abundance and composition. Plastics have been recorded on beaches, floating on the sea surface and accumulating in the deep sea.

3. Persistence of Plastic Litter in the OceansAndrady

Describes the physical and chemical process involved in the breakdown of plastics in the marine environment.

4. Deleterious Effects of Litter on Marine Life. Kühn et al.

A summary of the implications and effects of marine litter on wildlife, including entanglement and ingestion.

5. The Complex Mixture, Fate and Toxicity of Chemicals Associated with Plastic Debris in the Marine Environment. Rochman

Plastics are more than just a mechanistic threat to marine animals, this chapter looks the toxicity of chemicals and their health implications.

6. Marine Litter as Habitat and Dispersal Vector. Kiessling et al.

This chapter looks at how plastics facilitate the movement of marine organisms which colonise floating material, including invasive species.

7. Microplastics in the Marine Environment: Sources, Consequences and Solutions. Thompson

A synopsis of microplastic research to date.

8. Methodology Used for the Detection and Identification of Microplastics—A Critical Appraisal. Löder et al.

A critical appraisal of the research methods used when identifying microplastics in the field and marine biota.

9. Sources and Pathways of Microplastics to Habitats. Browne

An outline of the primary and secondary sources of microplastics

10. Microplastics in the Marine Environment: Distribution, Interactions and Effects. Lusher.

The global distribution and environmental impacts of microplastics.

11.Modeling the Role of Microplastics in Bioaccumulation of Organic Chemicals to Marine Aquatic Organisms. A Critical Review. Koelmans

A critical evaluation of the transfer of environmental contaminants to marine organisms using a modelling approach.

12.Nanoplastics in the Aquatic Environment. Critical Review. Koelmans et al.

A summary of nano-plastics.

13. Micro- and Nano-plastics and Human Health. Galloway

A summary of our current knowledge of how chemicals associated with plastics may affect human health.

14. The Economics of Marine Litter. Newman et al.

Describes the economic instruments around the world which are used to reduce litter inputs to the sea.

15. Regulation and Management of Marine Litter. Chen

Regulatory measures which are used to manage marine litter around the world.

16. The Contribution of Citizen Scientists to the Monitoring of Marine Litter. Hidalgo-Ruz et al.

A discussion on how public awareness and citizen scientists can be utilised to support global research of marine litter.

Irish Wildlife Trust

I wrote a short piece about the RIBBS – Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey – project to the Irish Wildlife Trust newsletter. It’s great to get the word out and let more people to know about how plastics could be affecting seabirds and what they can do to help with research, so I always appreciate it when there’s space for that🙂

Beached  bird survey

Published by Heidi Acampora

World Ocean’s Day

To celebrate World Ocean’d Day, Clean Coasts Ireland has put together a nice evening in Dublin: The Ocean Talks. If you’re in Dublin on the 8th of June, 2015 come to the Science Gallery for a great set of speakers talking all-ocean things. I’ll be there speaking about marine litter & seabirds and about the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey (RIBBS).

For more info, click here.

Ocean Talks Programme v3 Ocean Talks Programme v2

Published by Heidi Acampora

Inshore Ireland

On this month’s Inshore Ireland, I had the opportunity to write a short piece about marine litter and seabirds and to let people know about the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey (RIBBS). It’s great to have the chance to spread awareness about marine litter and about how people can help. Ireland’s seabed is about 10 times the size of its land, meaning that the sea is a great part of Irish people’s lives and that connection is important keeping.

'Your View' section of Inshore Ireland - April/May 2015

‘Your View’ section of Inshore Ireland – April/May 2015

Published by Heidi Acampora

Clean Coasts Roadshow

The Clean Coasts Roadshow is a series of seminars that takes place every year all over Ireland. The main goal is to promote awareness and discussions amongst local communities about ocean health and marine litter. There are several Clean Coasts groups all over the country that get together for beach clean ups regularly and the roadshow is a way of discussing results and stimulating conversations that will result in more actions towards cleaner beaches and oceans.

Myself and Amy were invited to give talks about our projects focusing on marine litter. It was a great opportunity to spread the word out about ‘The Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey’ and get more people involved. It is very common that people who walk beaches regularly either for a clean up or say to walk the dog would come across a dead seabird and not know who to contact or what to do. So it was the perfect opportunity to make sure people knew about the project and that they can contact me and those birds will be used for marine litter research and hopefully to advise policy for a cleaner marine environment.

If you would like to attend the roadshow, there are still some more stops to go and to be announced. Check here for details.

Another event to look forward to is the Clean Coasts Week, which takes place from the 8th to the 17th of May and it is the time to join a beach clean up group or create your own. You can order a free clean up kit and check for more information here. Every piece of litter removed does make a difference. And if you come across any dead seabirds during this period, please contact me on heidi.acampora@research.gmit.ie

Clean Coasts Roadshow - Waterford Stop - ©Ralph Acampora

Giving a talk at the Clean Coasts Roadshow – Waterford Stop – ©Ralph Acampora

Published by Heidi Acampora

Eco Eye: ‘Rethinking Waste’

A still from Eco Eye where I talk about seabirds and marine litter

A still from Eco Eye where I talk about seabirds and marine litter – ©Heidi Acampora

Eco Eye, the long term environmental television series on Ireland’s RTE One aired an episode about litter in Ireland. The episode was very well put together, making the viewer understand and re-think their options regarding waste products.

I had the opportunity of briefly speaking about the potential impacts marine litter could have on seabirds.

Watch the video below.

With Eco Eye's host Duncan Stewart at Portmarnock Beach, In Dublin

With Eco Eye’s host Duncan Stewart at Portmarnock Beach, In Dublin – ©Heidi Acampora

Published by Heidi Acampora