We investigated seabird plastic ingestion in the western Indian Ocean by analyzing the stomach contents of individuals belonging to nine seabird species (including two endangered species endemics to Reunion Island).
The most affected species were tropical shearwaters (79%) and Barau's petrels (59%). The average number of plastic particles per contaminated bird was higher in Barau's petrels (6.10 ± 1.29) than in tropical shearwaters (3.84 ± 0.59). All other studied species also showed plastic presence in their stomach contents. The mass of plastic particles was significantly higher both in juvenile's Barau's petrels and tropical shearwaters than in adults.
These results demonstrate the foraging areas of seabirds of the western Indian Ocean have a high level of plastic pollution. In Reunion Island, hundreds of tropical shearwaters and Barau's petrels are attracted by urban lights and die each year. We suggest taking advantage of this situation by using these species as long-term indicators of plastic marine pollution in the region.
Audrey E. Cartraud, Matthieu Le Corre, Jean Turquet, Julie Tourmetz, Plastic ingestion in seabirds of the western Indian Ocean, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 140, 2019, Pages 308-314, ISSN 0025-326X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.01.065.