Plastic pollution in the Atlantic ocean could lead to the extinction of some marine species, RÚV reports. Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir, a doctor of marine of biology, states that omnivorous birds such as fulmars (fulmarus) and manx shearwater’s (puffinus puffinus) are in particular danger.
“These bird species are in particular danger as they can ill differentiate between plastic particles and food scraps. What’s worse is that plastic which has been in the ocean for a substantial time can be covered with algae. The plastic can then emit a smell which indicates that there’s some food to be had, and the omnivorous birds are in particular danger”, Edda stated in an interview with National Broadcasting Service RÚV. She states that it’s difficult to say how much plastic is in the ocean surrounding Iceland, as it’s difficult to research and researchers have not placed an emphasis on the issue. What is known that the amount of plastic is substantial, and each individual leaves a trail of about 40 kilograms of plastic per year.
Edda believes that it should be standard protocol to survey the amount of plastic in marine animal’s stomachs should be used whenever marine animals are researched. No rules or laws are currently in place, but researchers are increasingly inspecting the stomach content of these animals. Edda mentioned that the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute and the Icelandic Institute of Natural History in North Iceland have been doing this, “If they discover dead fulmars they inspect their stomach content.”
Time for change
It is believed that 99% of marine birds will have plastic in their digestive systems by 2050. Plastic will pose a serious threat to biodiversity, but some species will handle the plastic better than others according to Edda. She states that people have been changing their plastic consumption somewhat, but it is not enough. Edda believes that it’s possible to reduce disposable plasticu usage. She also calls for the administrative system to make changes as companies are not required to treat plastic in any way, “They simply throw it away and it’s not recycled at all”.