Australia’s Adrift Lab studies seabird pollution – and supports World Albatross Day

Adrift Lab

The University of Tasmania’s Adrift Lab is described as a dedicated group of researchers studying all things adrift in the ocean, including plastic, chemicals, and wildlife.  The Lab is  headed by Jennifer Lavers, a Lecturer in Marine Science in the university’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart, Australia.  She describes the Lab as a research-focused centre where students are encouraged to be inclusive and tackle the tough, but important questions in pollution science.  Much of its work has concentrated on the incidence and effects of plastic pollution on seabirds, including shearwaters such as the globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Ardenna carnepeis, a contender for ACAP-listing.  The Lab’s 20-year study of this species on now thought to be rodent-free Lord Howe Island has unfortunately had to take a break this year due to Australia's COVID-19 restrictions – surely not the only long-term seabird study around the world that is being disrupted by the pandemic.

flesh footed shearwater dissection i. hutton

A Flesh-footed Shearwater on Lord Howe Island  reveals its plastic load, photograph by Ian Hutton

 Jennifer Lavers shrunk

Jenn  Lavers in the Adrift Lab

Jenn Lavers, a member of the Specialist Committee on Seabirds and Plastic Pollution with the World Seabird Union, has written to ACAP Latest News on behalf of Adrift Lab: “As a child, I recall stretching my arms out as wide as I could only to realise my “wings” were tiny compared to those of an albatross.  This was one of my first memories of forming a picture of just how vast and magical our world was.  World Albatross Day is an opportunity to reconnect with wonder, and in doing so, remind society why it’s so important to protect these iconic birds.”

With thanks to Jennifer Lavers.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 May 2020

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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