OVER 90 per cent of fulmar birds found by the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey had plastic in their stomachs.
This fulmar (pictured above), was found by volunteer Liam McNamara in Fanore.
GMIT Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Heidi Acampora and her team have been collecting dead sea birds for marine litter research for the last four years.
She confirmed that finding so many sea birds with plastic in their stomach is a very worrying trend.
“It can mean that plastics resemble prey and birds get confused and ingest them, or it can also mean that plastics are more available at sea than food,” Dr Acampora said.
Dr Acampora added it is relatively common to find dead seabirds for different reasons like rough weather or shift in food availability.
About 20 per cent of all birds found had plastics in their stomach, but the percentage is much higher for fulmars.
Sometimes plastic might not be the direct cause of death, but it is one of the facts that led to a bird’s death.
“For instance, a common occurrence is that birds ingest plastics, but while some species can regurgitate indigestible matter, like gull and cormorant species, others, like fulmars, for instance, can’t and they accumulate these plastics, which have no real nutrition and leave no space for food, so the bird ends up dying from starvation.
“Technically, plastics didn’t directly kill that bird, but indirectly, it had a major role in the bird’s death,” Dr Acampora said.