Volume 46, No. 1

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First quantification of plastic ingestion by Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus


1Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, P.O. Box 2570, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA (
2Current address: American Bird Conservancy, 190 Benito Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA
3Hawai‘i Pacific University, 41-202 Kalaniana’ole Hwy, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA
4NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Bldg. 4, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
5Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
6California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, 1451 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA


DONNELLY-GREENAN, E., HYRENBACH, D., BECK, J., FITZGERALD, S., NEVINS, H. & HESTER, M. 2018. First quantification of plastic ingestion by Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus. Marine Ornithology 46: 79 - 84

Received 26 October 2017, accepted 16 January 2018

Date Published: 2018/4/15
Date Online: 2018/3/16
Key words: Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus, plastic ingestion, marine debris, bycatch


We investigated the sex, age, body condition, and ingested plastics in six Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus, bycaught or opportunistically salvaged in US North Pacific groundfish fisheries. Necropsies revealed a 1:1 sex ratio, and a 2:1 juvenile (≤4 years of age) to adult (≥5 years of age) ratio, with five birds in healthy body condition and four in active molt. Of the six birds examined, two females (one adult, one juvenile) and two males (both juvenile), contained ingested plastics. Of the four birds with plastic, the number and mass of total plastic per bird was variable (number: mean 4.75, SD 2.1; mass: mean 0.2921 g, SD 0.3250 g). Plastics were categorized as fragments (n = 11), sheets (n = 4), foam (n = 2), and rubber (n = 2). Fragments were the most numerous type, occurring in all four birds that had ingested plastic and accounting for 57.9% of the plastic items and 90.5% of the plastic mass (dry weight). We documented greater incidence of ingested plastic in the ventriculus (75.0%) than in the proventriculus (16.7%). The overall plastic incidence was 75.0% in juveniles and 50.0% in adults. While this research provides quantitative evidence that Short-tailed Albatross juveniles and adults ingest plastics, additional analyses are needed to fully quantify the prevalence of plastic ingestion and to investigate potential persistent organic pollutants and plasticizers in Short-tailed Albatross.


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