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Seabirds & Pollution

May 22, 2013

Seabirds and their eggs help scientists track global pollution.



Polluted seabirds.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Feathers and eggs from seabirds can be used to global pollutants, and now, we need to watch them more closely than ever.  This according to researcher John Elliott of Environment Canada.  He explains that many ocean pollutants accumulate in the birds’ feathers and eggs – which are cheap and easy to sample, with minimal impact on the birds.

JOHN ELLIOTT (Environment Canada):

And that makes for a really nice system, as opposed to having to dart or take biopsies from whales or seals, or trap and wrestle seals on the shoreline or from boats; I’ve been party to those type of things and it’s a heck of a lot more work.

Among other things, Elliott says today’s eggs show worrisome levels of flame retardants, mercury, and residues from plastic trash that winds up in the ocean.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Rhinoceros auklets were among the seabirds studied.(Dick Daniels/Wikipedia)