Marine Plastic Pollution
Biological Indicators of Ocean Plastic Pollution – BiOPs Network
The main goal of the BiOPs Network is to improve the health of the Pacific Ocean by reducing the amount of plastic pollution entering the marine food webs. To this end, we are using seabirds and fish as biological samplers of litter at sea and quantifying changes in the amount and types of bio-available plastic pollution levels in major oceanographic regions of the Pacific, focusing on the North Pacific and Chile.
Our approach is to quantify plastic ingestion at three scales:
Abundant seabird species are accidentally caught in fisheries, providing samples for multiple decade comparisons. Short-tailed Shearwaters and Northern Fulmars taken by Alaska longline fisheries are an example of legacy species.
Species with restricted foraging ranges can indicate local levels of plastic pollution. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters nesting in Hawaii are an example of an indicator of pollution in the central Pacific.
While plastic ingestion occurs in many marine taxa, the incidence and loads vary geographically and temporally, as predators ingest plastic directly and secondarily from their prey.
Pacific Network – Key Partners
- Santa Cruz Labs – Located at the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center and UCSC, led by Jessie Beck and Michelle Hester and research associates Hannah Nevins, Erica Donnelly-Greenan, and Myra Finkelstein.
- Hawai‘i Necropsy Lab – Located at Hawai’i Pacific University’s Pelagicos Lab, led by David Hyrenbach
- Washington Necropsy Lab – Located at University of Puget Sound’s Slater Museum of Natural History, led by Peter Hodum and Gary Shugart.
- Chile Islands Field Stations – Located at Robinson Crusoe in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago and Isla Mocha, led by Oikonos’ Chile Program.
Learn About Plastic Ingestion
Peer-Reviewed Publications & Reports:
Youngren, S.M., Rapp, D.C., Hyrenbach, K.D. 2018. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 128: 369–378. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.01.053
Donnelly-Greenan, E., Hyrenbach, D., Beck, J., Fitzgerald, S., Nevins, H., & Hester, M. 2018. Marine Ornithology, 46: 79–84.
Hyrenbach, K.D., Hester, M.M., Adams, J., Titmus, A.J., Michael, P., Wahl, T., Chang, C., Marie, A., Vanderlip, C. 2017. Marine Ornithology, 45: 225-236.
Rapp, D.C, Youngren, S.M., Hartzell, P., Hyrenbach, K.D. 2017. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 123: 269-278. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.08.047.
Lyday S., Robinson E. Dwyer, M. Hester M., Hyrenbach D., Fry M. World Seabird Conference, South Africa (2015)
Quantification of the plastic loads ingested by Tristam’s Storm-petrel nestlings from Tern Island, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Youngren S., Rapp D., Hartzell P., Duhr M., Hester M., Hyrenbach D. Pacific Seabird Group San Jose (2015)
Prey and Plastic Ingestion of Pacific Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis rogersii) from Monterey Bay, California
Donnelly E., Harvey J., Nevins H., Hester M., Walker W. 2014. Marine Pollution Bulletin 85: 214-244. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.05.046
Hyrenbach D., Hester M., Johnson J., Lyday S., Bingham S.,& Pawloski J. 2013. Marine Ornithology 41: 167–169
Marrero M., Hester M., Hyrenbach D., Michael P., Adams J., Keiper C., Stock J., Collins A., Vanderlip C., Alvarez T., Webb S. 2013. Current: The Journal of Marine Education 28(2):26-30
Using the Widely Distributed Seabird, the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), as an Indicator of Marine Plastic Pollution
Terepocki A., Summer Research. Paper 160. (2012)
Boluses reveal species-specific and colony-based differences in plastic ingestion by Black-footed Albatross.
Hyrenbach D., Titmus A., Hester M., Vanderlip C., Chang C., Wahl T. Pacific Seabird Group O’ahu, Hawai‘i (2012)
Brander S., Fontana R., Mata T., Gravem S., Hettinger A., Bean J., Szoboszlai A., Keiper C., Marrero M. 2011. The American Biology Teacher 73(8):474-478.
David Hyrenbach, Hannah Nevins, Michelle Hester, Carol Keiper, Sophie Webb, James T. Harvey. 2009. In: Marine Debris in Alaska: Coordinating Our Efforts. Proceedings of the Marine Debris in Alaska Workshop. Anchorage, Alaska / Michael Williams and Erika Ammann, (Editors), Fairbanks. Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, pp. 57-61. (2008)
Lyday, S., Robinson, E., Dwyer, M., Hester, M., Hyrenbach, D., Fry, M. 2015. World Seabird Conference, South Africa.
Hyrenbach, K.D., Youngren, S., Rapp, D., Hartzell, P., Duhr, M., Hester, M.M., Fry, M. 2015. World Seabird Conference, South Africa.
Dirty Secrets Episode of Strange Days on Planet Earth Narrated by Edward Norton
Summer 2007, National Geographic, PBS, and Sea Studios presents Link to Video
Classroom activities incorporate current data from BiOPs’ collaborative research.
Wings and Fins Career Training Opportunities in Marine Debris research
- NOAA Fisheries
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- NOAA Marine Debris Program
- Private Donors
- Jim Harvey & BeachCOMBERS Program, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
- Shannon Fitzgerald, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
- Jan van Franeker, Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies (IMARES) – North Sea Program
- Jennifer Stock, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
- Cynthia Vanderlip, Kure Atoll Conservancy
- Andy Collins, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
- CONAF, Chile
- Sophie Webb, Oikonos
- Bill Henry, University of CA Santa Cruz
- Carol Keiper, Oikonos
- Kena Fox-Dobbs, University of Puget Sound
Hawai‘i Pacific University Pelagicos Lab:
- Sarah Youngren, Plastic ingestion by Tristram’s Storm-petrels. MSMS. Completed: May 2015.
- Dan Rapp, Plastic ingestion by Tern Island seabirds: A community-wide perspective. MSMS. Completed: May 2015.
- Elisabeth Robinson, Plastic Ingestion by Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters: Environmental Policies. MA – GLSD. Completed: Dec. 2014
- Andrew Titmus, Plastic ingestion in North Pacific Seabirds. MSMS. Completed: Dec. 2010.
- Frances Nilsen, Seabird susceptibility to organochlorinated pollutants. MSMS. Completed: Dec. 2010.
- Chih-Wei Chang, Plastic ingestion and diet of North Pacific albatrosses. Undergraduate. Completed: May 2010.
- Eve Scanlan, Plastic ingestion of petrels from Tern Island. Undergraduate. Completed: Jan. 2012.
- John Johnson, Plastic ingestion by albatross chicks from Tern Island. Undergraduate. Completed: Dec. 2012
- Travis Wahl, Comparing Laysan albatross boluses from multiple colonies. Undergraduate. Completed: May 2013
- Matt Dwyer, Plastic ingestion by adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters from O’ahu. Undergraduate.