University of Tasmania
143159 - Plastic ingestion is an underestimated cause of death for southern hemisphere.pdf (1.17 MB)

Plastic ingestion is an underestimated cause of death for southern hemisphere albatrosses

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 21:35 authored by Lauren RomanLauren Roman, Butcher, RG, Stewart, D, Hunter, S, Jolly, M, Kowalski, P, Hardesty, BD, Lenting, B
Albatrosses are among the world’s most imperiled vertebrates, with 73% of species threatenedwith extinction. Ingestion of plastic is awell-recognized threat among threeNorth Pacific species, but lesser known in the southern hemisphere, where it is considered a minor threat. As plastic entering the ocean is increasing while albatross populations decline, the threat of ocean plastic to albatross populations may be underestimated. We present case studies of 107 beach-cast albatrosses of twelve species, received by wildlife hospitals in Australia and New Zealand, and estimate plastic ingestion and mortality rates for albatrosses in the southern hemisphere. Ingested plastic was present in 5.6% of individuals, and the cause of death in half of these cases. We estimate ingestion of plastic may cause 3.4–17.5% of nearshoremortalities and is worth consideration as a substantial threat to albatross populations. We provide clinical findings and “checklist” methodologies for identifying potential cases of foreign-body gastrointestinal obstruction. We suggest practical policy responses, empowering decision makers to reduce albatross mortality from anthropogenic sources.


Publication title

Conservation Letters



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Coastal or estuarine biodiversity; Marine biodiversity