Mairne Litter

Yet again on the May we have seen the effects marine rubbish is having on our seabirds in the UK.

We were alerted by the visiting public that a gannet was tangled in something up on the island top. It is unusual to see Gannets on the land here on the May; they are usually offshore feeding or flying over to the Bass Rock where they breed. I managed to grab the bird (it’s not advised to do this as they are very strong birds with sharp bills) and get help to cut the rope off. With the help from Roy from the Osprey we managed to release the bird out at sea so that it could feed and get back to normal.

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The twine wrapped around the beak and caught in the barbs on the inside of the lower bill.

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The same piece wrapped around the birds leg.

This is the third time we have seen gannets with rope tangled around their bills. There has also been this same blue rope in a Kittiwakes nest and it caused the chicks to die. Birds and other mammals cannot tell the difference between what is rubbish and something that looks like food or nesting material, they try to eat it or use it as bedding with catastrophic effects.

It’s not just seabirds that are affected by marine litter. Earlier in the year a seal was found with plastic around its neck. The CEH researchers managed to hold the young seal down cut free the plastic but it made a deep wound around its neck. If this hadn’t have been freed the animal could have continued to grow and the plastic would have got deeper and deeper and eventually kill the individual. On the other hand it could also have stopped the animal from feeding and it would have died of starvation.

The plastic was already deep, leaving a wound around its whole neck. Hopefully we managed to save it in time!

The plastic was already deep, leaving a wound around its whole neck. Hopefully we managed to save it in time!

These incidents are a snapshot into what is going on around the UK and across our oceans. PLEASE be aware of the rubbish that you throw away and where you dispose of it, please pick up your rubbish and recycle it or put it in a bin. And spread the word too!

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