Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Necropsied Black-footed Albatross chicks contain more plastic than do adults

Dan Rapp (Hawaii Pacific University, Marine Science Programs at Oceanic Institute, Waimanalo, Hawaii, USA) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on ingested plastics in both chicks and adults of globally Near Threatened Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses and other seabirds at Hawaii’s French Frigate Shoals.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Between 2006 and 2013, we salvaged and necropsied 362 seabird specimens from Tern Island, French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Plastic ingestion occurred in 11 of the 16 species sampled (68.75%), representing four orders, seven families, and five foraging guilds: four plunge-divers, two albatrosses, two nocturnal-foraging petrels, two tuna-birds, and one frigatebird. Moreover, we documented the first instance of ingestion in a previously unstudied species: the Brown Booby. Plastic prevalence (percent occurrence) ranged from 0% to 100%, with no significant differences across foraging guilds. However, occurrence was significantly higher in chicks versus adult conspecifics in the Black-footed Albatross, one of the three species where multiple age classes were sampled. While seabirds ingested a variety of plastic (foam, line, sheets), fragments were the most common and numerous type. In albatrosses and storm-petrels, the plastic occurrence in the two stomach chambers (the proventriculus and the ventriculus) was not significantly different.”


Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, photograph courtesy of the Kure Atoll Conservancy


Rapp, D.C., Youngren, S.M., Hartzell, P. & Hyrenbach, K.D. 2017. Community-wide patterns of plastic ingestion in seabirds breeding at French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Marine Pollution Bulletin

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 August 2017