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Researchers warn: Seabirds are threatened by plastic found in thousands of nests

Scottish researchers have warned that seabirds are at risk of plastic waste after finding thousands of nests in Britain and Europe containing contaminants. They surveyed data over four years in 10,274 nests across the UK, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and the Faroe Islands.

Researchers asked visitors to visit seabird colonies to help collect data in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way, and found that 12% of them contained plastic debris.

Data were also collected from 14 species of seabirds in 84 colonies between 2016 and 2020, with Atlantic puffins most affected by plastic in their nests.

Scottish researchers have found that 67% of Atlantic puffin nests contain plastic, using data from individuals studying the nests for other purposes.

No data have been collected for Atlantic puffins in the UK as they tend to breed in deeper trenches than open nests, which means that nest contents are more difficult to record compared to shallow nesting sites in places like Norway and Svalbard.

Although Atlantic puffins usually build nests in worms, they can line up their nests with smaller objects such as plants.

Accidental paper splits and fishing nets in the holes have been reported in the UK though not confirmed.

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