Marine debris ingestion by Magellanic penguins, Spheniscus magellanicus (Aves: Sphenisciformes), from the Brazilian coastal zone

Martha L Brandão, Karina M Braga, José L Luque
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2011, 62 (10): 2246-9
Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) are non-breeding winter visitors to the Brazilian coast. In 2008 and 2010, plastic items and other marine debris were found in the stomachs and intestines of 15% of 175 dead penguins collected in the Lagos Region of the state of Rio de Janeiro. One bird had its stomach perforated by a plastic straw, which may have caused its death. There are few records of penguins ingesting plastic litter, but previous studies have found similar levels of debris ingestion among Magellanic penguins stranded on the Brazilian coast (35.8% of 397 birds). The high incidence of marine debris in this species in Brazil may result at least in part from the predominance of juveniles reaching these waters, as juvenile penguins may have a broader diet than adults. It is unclear to what extent plastic ingestion affects the mortality rate in this species and whether the incidence in stranded birds reflects that in the entire population. The present study addresses the increasing impact of plastic debris on marine life.

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