April 11, 2021

The Cinderella Shearwater in the Canary Islands, threatened by "marine garbage" – The Province

The Cinderella Shearwater in the Canary Islands, threatened by "marine garbage" - The Province

EO / BirdLife has warned on Monday that marine pollution by plastics represents a "serious threat" to the Canarian populations of seabirds, especially the Cinderella shearwater, 83% of the chickens analyzed in the latest studies by Canarian scientists had plastic inside, with an average of eight fragments per individual, which they would have ingested next to the food provided by the adults.

Another of the seabirds potentially affected by the 'marine trash' and that threatened are the parck pigeon and the small pardela, also belonging to the group of the procelariformes.

Unlike seagulls and other seabirds, the pro-aryliforms do not form pellets – 'balls' formed by the non-digestible parts of the ingested food, which regurgitate before entering the stomach–, so that they accumulate more easily small fragments of plastic that they capture on the surface when they confuse it with their prey (planktonic organisms, fish and cephalopods) or next to it, or that are within its food.

Generally, these are very small fragments, but larger plastics can also be found, and their accumulation can cause ulcers, infections or even drowning.

The presence of plastics in the stomach can also create a feeling of satiety, which would lead to death by starvation, point out from SEO Bird Life.

Further, Larger plastics can cause snags and entanglements, which can cause amputations, drowning or starvation. In this case, in addition to the shearwaters, other seabirds such as gannets, gulls and terns may also be affected.

Many of these plastics are abandoned on the Canary coast, dragged by the wind from uncontrolled landfills or reach the sea pushed from the ravines in rainy seasons.

But they also come from places thousands of kilometers away, according to researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC).

Thus, they are garbage arriving from Europe, Africa and even from the east coast of the United States, dragged by the currents of the Gulf and the Canary Islands and it is estimated that each tide sheds on the Canary beaches up to 120 grams of small pieces of plastic per meter square, which means several tons per year in each of the islands.

Strategies against plastics

With this same university, SEO / BirdLife has initiated a collaboration with which aims to improve knowledge about the impact of plastic on the fabric of the Canarian seabirds, for which volunteers will be involved in the island of Tenerife.

"The concentration of plastics in the sea grows exponentially, and with it the studies that document negative impacts for seabirds, the most threatened avifauna group on the planet," says Yarci Acosta, delegate of SEO / BirdLife in the Canary Islands.

Therefore, they insist that "the solution is to change the consumption model, reduce the use of plastics and promote zero waste and boost a circular economy. "

The organization applauds the initiative of Government of the Canary Islands for launching a strategy to fight plastic pollution and urges the Executive to "quickly implement the Management Plan and Canary Islands Waste Prevention Program (PIRCAN) that will be presented this month and that should have been renewed in 2006.

"We also remember that a good part of the councils does not yet have their Special Territorial Waste Plan, as required by law," says Acosta.


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