For those who could not attend the #oceantalks in Dublin for World Ocean’s Day, here’s a video of my presentation talking about the RIBBS project. Many thanks to Clean Coasts for the opportunity. It was such a nice event!

PS: We now have a page on Facebook to keep everyone updated: Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey

Published by Heidi Acampora


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

The Galway Tribune on Marine Litter and Seabirds

I had the opportunity of giving an interview to the local newspaper “The Galway City Tribune” about my research involving plastics and seabirds. It was a great chance to spread the word out about litter and the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey, spread awareness and get more people involved. I think we’re on the right way 🙂

If you’d like to read the full story, click here.


Published by Heidi Acampora

Micro and macroplastic ingestion by marine mammals

… “When marine mammals strand, the present a unique opportunity to obtain insights into the ecology”….. (Lusher et al. 2015).

It’s not uncommon to see reports on the news and the web about the marine mammals stranding on coastlines around the world. In the most part, their deaths are associated to natural causes. However, in many cases their deaths are attributed to marine debris, specifically large plastic items that have been ingested, caused blockages, malnutrition, starvation and eventually death. Regardless of the route of entry to the marine environment, discarded plastic can be accidently ingested by animals mistaking it for prey.

A quick Google search lead me to these reports:

It is not only large plastic items that could be present in the digestive tracts of these animals. As part of my PhD research and collaborative work with Dr. Gema Hernandez-Milian from University College Cork (UCC) we have been investigating methods for the identification of microplastics in stranded animals on Irish shores.

We were fortunate enough (not fortunate for the animals), to have three True’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon mirus) strand on the west and north coast of Ireland within two weeks of each other. A mother and calf in Co. Donegal, and an adult female in Connemara, Co. Galway.

True's beaked whale stranded in Co. Galway, May 2013

True’s beaked whale stranded in Co. Galway, May 2013 (Image: Ian O’Connor)

It is important to note that strandings of True’s beaked whales in Ireland are very rare, with only 13 record to date, check out the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) for more details.

A laboratory procedure was developed, to prevent contamination and to search effectively for microplastics in our samples. In short, we looked at each stomach separately, and divided the intestines into 20 equal sections. Rinsing the samples through stacked sieves, we were able to remove remains of prey, for dietary analysis, and the retained material was digested to leave non-biological material.

Any items remaining following digestion were visually analysed under a microscope, and a sub-sample were retained for FTIR analysis to find out which polymer new were looking at. For more information on this technique, read the methodology section of Lusher et al. 2013.

We found microplastics throughout the digestive tract (stomach and intestines) one female whale. We also identified macro plastic items in both the adult whales. The calf had no sign of plastics or food, but did have milk, which suggests it was still feeding from the mother.

Diagram of the stomach of True’s beaked whale (Image: Lusher et al. 2015)

As we are not vets, the cause of death could not be determined. The levels of plastic found did not appear to have caused any significant negative effects on the individuals.

To read more about the study click here.

Or you can contact me for a copy of the PDF: amy.lusher@reaserch.gmit.ie

We are carrying out this work on cetaceans stranded in Ireland, so keep an eye out for future research.

Dr. Simon Berrow from IWDG and GMIT was interviewed on TodayFM about a killer whale stranding in Co. Waterford a the beginning of the month. He discusses the work we have been doing form 11. 40 mins on-wards. Take a listen here.


Published by Amy Lusher

About Marine Litter and Ireland

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about my PhD research on marine litter and my life in Ireland on Brazilian TV. The show aired on the 31st of January and it is available online. A short piece was also written about it. Unfortunately, there are no English subtitles, but as we get readers from Portuguese speaking countries, I thought it would be worth sharing.

Watch the video here: Irlanda: Rota de Estudantes

And read about it here: Como Sera

Talking about the ingestion of litter by seabirds with the reporter Mariane Salerno

Talking about the ingestion of litter by seabirds with reporter Mariane Salerno – ©Heidi Acampora

Published by Heidi Acampora

Dave joins the marine litter fight

Dave aka Endangered Dave is a Galway based artist, who tries to raise awareness about endangered species through his paintings. Dave makes beautiful paintings of endangered animals and leaves them around Galway for people to find them and be encouraged to learn about these animals. The game is: Dave leaves clues on Facebook and Twitter as to where he placed his newest piece and if you find it, you keep it. But you have to post a picture to Dave letting him know the painting has found a home!

Although I live in Galway, I learned about Dave in Norway! His fame seems to be expanding  😉 After meeting him and explaining about my work on seabirds and marine litter, he kindly agreed on painting some of the species that are highly affected by marine debris in order to raise awareness on the marine debris issue and how it could have severe effects on populations of seabirds, among other animals, of course.

So keep an eye out for some beautiful seabird paintings around Galway. Follow Dave through his Facebook and Twitter. And please, of course, also keep an eye out for any dead seabirds and let me know through heidi.acampora@research.gmit.ie or 086 3615575 🙂

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) painting left by the hospital wall in Shantalla

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) painting left by the hospital wall in Shantalla – ©Dave

Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) painting left at Neachtains -

Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) painting left at Neachtains – ©Dave

Published by Heidi Acampora