Plastic consumption turning seabirds smaller, study finds

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New research from the University of Tasmania has found that seabirds are becoming smaller in size due to their consumption of plastic.

Researchers analyzed the flesh-footed shearwaters on Lord Howe Island, Australia and found that their wings and bills had become shorter.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. It found that plastic had caused the birds to have a lower body mass and decreased kidney function.

Jennifer Lavers, lead author of the study, explained in a university news release that they took blood samples from the seabirds and found that the birds had a higher cholesterol, a higher concentration of uric acid as well as reduced blood calcium levels.

According to the researchers, the consumption of plastic is resulting in a decline of the flesh-footed shearwaters as they are feeding their offspring tiny pieces of plastic, instead of fish.

In the news release, Lavers said their research suggested that any amount of plastic ingestion is enough to have an impact on the health of an individual.

The number of seabirds who die every year from eating plastic waste is estimated to be around 1 million, according to a United Nations Ocean conference factsheet from 2017.

Seabirds mistakenly consume plastic as it looks and smells like food and floats on the surface of the water, according to the World Wild Fund for Nature Australia.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Flesh-footed shearwaters consuming plastic
2. The effects of plastic on flesh-footed shearwaters bodies
3. What researchers found in blood samples taken from the seabirds
4. Why researchers believe the population of flesh-footed shearwaters are in decline

VOICEOVER (in English):
"New research from the University of Tasmania has found that seabirds are becoming smaller in size due to their consumption of plastic."

"Researchers analyzed the flesh-footed shearwaters on Lord Howe Island, Australia and found that their wings and bills had become shorter."

"The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. It found that plastic had caused the birds to have a lower body mass and decreased kidney function."

"Jennifer Lavers, lead author of the study, explained in a university news release that they took blood samples from the seabirds and found that the birds had a higher cholesterol, a higher concentration of uric acid as well as reduced blood calcium levels."

"According to the researchers, the consumption of plastic is resulting in a decline of the flesh-footed shearwaters as they are feeding their offspring tiny pieces of plastic, instead of fish."

SOURCES: CNN, University of Tasmania, Environmental Science & Technology, Science Daily, World Wild Fund for Nature Australia, United Nations
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/30/health/seabirds-plastic-pollution-health-problems-scli-intl/index.html
http://www.imas.utas.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1253847/Seabird-plastic-ingestion-Jennifer-Lavers-MR.pdf
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b02098
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190730092638.htm
https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/how-many-birds-die-from-plastic-pollution
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Ocean_Factsheet_Pollution.pdf