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Balloons the primary marine particles danger of mortality for seabirds

The data showed that a seabird ingesting a single piece of plastic had a 20 per cent chance of mortality, rising to 50 per cent for nine items and 100 per cent for 93 items.

Led by IMAS-CSIRO Ph.D. student Lauren Roman and published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study found that although hard plastic accounts for the vast majority of debris ingested it is far less likely to kill than soft plastics such as balloons.

“Marine debris ingestion is now a globally recognized threat,” Ms Roman said.

“However, the relationship between the amount or type of debris that a seabird ingests and mortality remains poorly understood.

“Among the birds we studied the leading cause of death was blockage of the gastrointestinal tract, followed by infections or other complications caused by gastrointestinal obstructions.

“Although soft plastics accounted for just 5 per cent of the items ingested they were responsible for more than 40 per cent of the mortalities.

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