Collecting Dead Fulmars: Researching Marine Litter

fulmar Mike PenningtonAn ongoing project which examines the stomach contents of dead fulmars, “Save the North Sea” is asking for help from interested members of the public.

Over a period of 15 years dead fulmars have been collected  from Shetland, Orkney ,the NE of England and along the east coast. Fulmars ingest marine litter, being largely surface-feeders, which accumulates in their stomachs. The stomach contents have been analysed in Holland (the lead partners), at the Wageningen Marine Research Centre.

The researchers want to determine whether or not strategies that have been put in place to reduce marine litter are working. Analysing what a fulmar has ingested is one way of investigating this.

How can you help?

If you are a person who regularly visits our beaches and you spot a  fulmar carcass you are asked to collect it . For this you will need to be prepared and carry with you a plastic bag. When you get home wrap it in several layers of newspaper, then double-bag in strong plastic bags.

Record the following information: DATE of FINDING; LOCATION of FINDING (place name or better still, a 6-figure map reference) and name of FINDER.

Contact JIM WILLIAMS: 01856 761 317 or 07879 000399 for advice on how to wrap and store it and for what will happen next.

Corpses will be stored in a freezer in the OIC Marine Services building at Scapa.

Eventually the corpses, or the stomachs (if trained personnel are present in Orkney who can remove them during full autopsies), will be transported to Holland.

Additional contact: Jenni Kakkonen, Marine Biologist, Harbour Authority, OIC: 01856 873636.

fulmar Mike Pennington

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