Friday 8. July 2011

Plastic Ingestion by Icelandic Northern Fulmars

The past spring semester, six exchange students have been studying at the Coastal and Marine Management program. Three come from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and three from Wageningen University in Leewarden, Netherlands. One of the students from the Netherlands, Susanne Knhn, used the opportunity of her stay in the Westfjords to gather samples from the stomachs of Northern Fulmars for a research project.

Susanne collecting samples
Susanne collecting samples
The research project that Susanne is working on is a part of a large European project. "I have had the chance to work for the European coordinator of the fulmar-plastic-project in the Netherlands. He asked me to establish a network to find dead fulmars in Iceland because nothing is known about the situation of plastic digestion in this country. Via this network I found a fisherman in Bolungarvik that kept Fulmars for me that were accidentally entangled as by catch with his long lines."

Susanne's stay in Iceland also benefited other students at her school since she used the opportunity to collect feather samples from her sample birds that will be used by a PhD student researching heavy metals in different Fulmars colonies in Europe.

The OSPAR commission had established "Ecological quality objectives" to reduce the plastic in the North Sea - and thus in Fulmars. Here the trends of plastic pollution are analyzed for many countries along the North Sea coast, the East Atlantic and now for Iceland as well.

We wish Susanne all the best with her research project and hope to see her again in Iceland sooner than later.

Further information about plastic ingestion of birds