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 study the impact of plastic pollution and quantify ingestion by marine wildlife at three scales:
Abundant seabird species are accidentally caught in fisheries, providing samples for multiple decade comparisons. Short-tailed Shearwaters, Northern Fulmars, and Albatrosses taken by 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 – tracking studies show they forage for their chicks within 200km of the islands.
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. Studying tunas and forage fish highlights the human connection to clean oceans.
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 Myra Finkelstein.
- Hawai‘i Necropsy Lab – Located at Hawai’i Pacific University’s Pelagicos Lab, led by David Hyrenbach in addition to the Center of Marine Debris Research.
- 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
Oikonos authored Peer-Reviewed Publications & Reports:
Hyrenbach, D.K., McGinnis, Z. Page, K., Rapp, D., Horgan, D.F., Lynch, J. 2020. Aquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 2020:1-12.
Tanaka, Kosuke and Watanuki, Yutaka and takada, Hideshige and Ishizuka, Mayumi and Yamashita, Rei and Kazama, Mami and Hiki, Nagako and Mizukawa, Kaoruko and Mizukawa, Hazuki and Hyrenbach, David and Hester, Michelle and Ikenaka, Yoshinori and Nakayama, Shouta M. M. 2019. Direct In Vivo Evidence for Accumulation of Plastic Derived Chemicals in Seabird Tissue. Current Biology 30: 1-6.
Yamashita, R., Takata, H., Nakazawa, A., Takahasi, A., Yamamoto, T., Watanabe, Y., Kokubun, N., Sato, K., Wanless, S., Daunt, F., Hyrenbach, D., Hester, M., Deguchi, T., Nishizawa, B., Shoji, A., Watanuki, Y. 2018. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00094
Youngren, S.M., Rapp, D.C., Hyrenbach, K.D. 2018. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 128: 369–378. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.01.053
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)
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)
Classroom activities incorporate current data from BIOPs’ collaborative research.
- NOAA Fisheries
- Marisla Foundation
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- NOAA Marine Debris Program
- Private Donors
- Myra Finkelstein, University of CA Santa Cruz
- Jim Harvey & BeachCOMBERS Program, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
- Shannon Fitzgerald, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
- Jenn Lynch, NIST, Center for Marine Debris
- 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
Hawai‘i Pacific University Pelagicos Lab:
- Alonda Islas, Skipjack tuna diet and plastic ingestion relationships. MSMS. Ongoing 2021
- Sarah Hutchinson, Wedge-tailed Shearwater oceanographic patterns in plastic pollution. MSMS. Ongoing 2021
- Lauren Chamberlin, Bonin Petrel plastic ingestion, Midway Atoll. MSMS. Completed: 2019
- Sarah Youngren, Plastic ingestion by Tristram’s Storm-petrels. MSMS. Completed: 2015.
- Dan Rapp, Plastic ingestion by Tern Island seabirds: A community-wide perspective. MSMS. Completed: 2015.
- Elisabeth Robinson, Plastic Ingestion by Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters: Environmental Policies. MA – GLSD. Completed: 2014
- Andrew Titmus, Plastic ingestion in North Pacific Seabirds. MSMS. Completed: 2010.
- Frances Nilsen, Seabird susceptibility to organochlorinated pollutants. MSMS. Completed: 2010.
- Chih-Wei Chang, Plastic ingestion and diet of North Pacific albatrosses. Undergraduate. Completed: 2010.
- Eve Scanlan, Plastic ingestion of petrels from Tern Island. Undergraduate. Completed: 2012.
- John Johnson, Plastic ingestion by albatross chicks from Tern Island. Undergraduate. Completed: 2012
- Travis Wahl, Comparing Laysan albatross boluses from multiple colonies. Undergraduate. Completed: 2013
- Matt Dwyer, Plastic ingestion by adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters from O’ahu. Undergraduate. Completed 2010