The 6th International Marine Debris Conference

I had the privilege to attend and speak at the 6th International Marine Debris Conference, which took place in San Diego, California, from the 12th to the 16th of March 2018. The conference gathered more than 700 delegates from 54 different countries, all with the goal of sharing their research and advances about impacts, and preventing and mitigating plastic pollution around the globe. From researchers to stakeholder to activists, we had a little of everything and one thing was obvious: even though there is a lot we do not know yet about the impacts of plastics caused at various levels, we have enough knowledge to act. It is time to act now.

In the last few weeks we have seen a lot of media coverage on the topic of plastic pollution and even though most of it is resulting of really bad impacts being seen at the moment, they are making the general public very aware that something needs to change and it has to be now. Governmental proposals of banning single use plastics are finally happening and I am very hopeful that more mitigation measures and potential solutions will be brought forward and hopefully we can turn the tide on plastic pollution.

I got to speak about the about “The use of beached bird surveys for marine litter monitoring in Ireland” and had a really good feedback and interesting conversations with other researchers wanting or already implementing the same in their own countries.

The conference had a zero waste initiative and we all had our reusable cups and lunch bags from registration. Food was also donated to local shelter. At the end of the conference we had the very nice surprise to have Jack Johnson to talk about how he has reduced and advocated for no plastic waste at his concerts and we also got treated to a couple of songs! In the following days, I also got to enjoy a little bit of beautiful San Diego.

If you wish to read more about the conference, please visit their website here.

Conference proceedings are available here.

phonto1

Presenting on the RIBBS project.

pronto5

GMIT’s representatives: PhD student Elena Pagter, Dr João Frias and Dr Heidi Acampora 🙂

phonto2

Jack Johnson treating us to a few songs. That was a great ending to a conference!

phonto4

Visiting La Jolla, I got to see nesting Brandt’s cormorants ❤

phonto3

Flying Brown pelicans under the California sunshine!

 

Until next time,

 

Heidi Acampora

Advertisements

SuperNatural Plastic Eaters

file_31-01-2018_13_11_59

The Science Gallery in Dublin will be holding an artistic event by Yvanna Greene, which examines plastic pollution from the point of view of scientists and approaches it through an artistic eye.

“Imagine plastic breaking down in the stomach of sea creatures, transforming into a plastic protein, that is used as fuel to enhance or recreate the skeletal frame. How far are we from a time when sea creatures can design and shape their future selves with a material that is non-degradable, has increased fracture toughness, is light weight, colourful and shiny?

SuperNatural Plastic Eaters is a talk involving marine scientists Karin Dubsky and Heidi Acampora and artist Yvanna Greene. The talk, chaired by Anne Mullee, examines plastic pollution in the marine environment, the ingestion of plastic by marine creatures and reveals fictitious evolutionary new marine species washed up on the coast of Ireland, in order to raise awareness about plastic pollution affecting wildlife globally”.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 – 18:30 to 20:00. Free entry. More information in the link below.

https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/events/2018/02/supernaturalplasticeaters

‘The Witches Knickers Project’

Witches Knickers poster

For those living in Ireland, I’d like to tell you about an artistic exhibition that will approach plastic pollution.

“In this exhibition, KAVA artists respond to the growing outrage at the environmental crisis precipitated by single use plastic. ‘Witches’ Knickers’ is Irish slang for plastic snagged on trees and bushes. The exhibition, a collaboration between Kinvara Area Visual Arts and The Russell Gallery, New Quay will mark the conclusion of an experimental workshop that KAVA undertook in early February and will showcase works produced during the course of the workshop.”

I’ve been approached by one of the artists, Cath Taylor, to provide some information on plastics affecting seabirds in Ireland and she has made some powerful pieces about that and it is definitely worth checking it if you’re in the area!

Launch: Saturday February 17th, 2018 at 5pm at The Russell Gallery
Continues until 3rd March

Mooney Goes Wild

 

On January 14th, “Mooney Goes Wild”, on RTÉ Radio 1, was all about plastic pollution affecting marine species globally. I got to speak about the ‘Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Surveys’ and how seabirds in Ireland are being affected by plastic pollution.

You can listen back to this episode here!

Thanks for all the usual support to this project!

Heidi Acampora

The Irish Times on Plastic Pollution

Me and my colleagues at the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre got the opportunity to talk to The Irish Times about plastic pollution in Ireland. We hope this video has contributed to raise awareness about plastic pollution and that people feel compelled to do their part either by reducing, reusing and recycling plastics or by helping with research by doing beached bird surveys or beach clean ups 🙂 To watch the video, click on the link below.

Ireland’s plastic pollution problem

Additionally, I also had the opportunity to talk to BBC One Northern Ireland’s Home Ground. This show is not available in all countries, but you can check availability in the link below.

BBC One – Home Ground, series 2 episode 2

That is all for now!

Thanks for reading and for helping with this research.

Heidi Acampora

PhD is over!

 

IMG_4190

Whoa, it’s been a minute! I feel bad this blog has been completely neglected during the last few months, but it was for a good cause! I did it! I finished the PhD! 🙂 The months leading up to it were very stressful trying to finish writing and publishing and preparing to defend it that I had no spare time whatsoever. But I am really happy with all that I have achieved, with the help of amazing volunteers and coworkers, I was able to provide baseline data for pollutants in many seabird species in Ireland and to me, that feels like making a difference. Now that things are slightly calmer, I intend to come back to updating this blog more often again.

For now, I leave you with the publications so far that have come out with results from the past 3 years’ work! After the last post with the first results from the beached bird surveys, we have come up with a few more things 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 16.09.44

You can access it here

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 16.11.07.png

You can access it here

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 16.12.11

You can access it here

If you don’t have access and would like to read any of these, just let us know and I can send you a PDF.

That’s it for now. Happy reading!

Dr Heidi Acampora 🙂

 

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

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 12.20.42

 

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

IMG_3452

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