Northern Fulmars In Iceland. !!INSTALL!!
In 2011, northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) from Iceland were used to test the hypothesis that plastic debris decreases at northern latitudes in the Atlantic when moving away from major human centres of coastal and marine activities. Stomach analyses of Icelandic fulmars confirm that plastic pollution levels in the North Atlantic tend to decrease towards higher latitudes. Levels of pollution thus appear to link to regions of intense human coastal and marine activities, suggesting substantial current inputs in those areas.
Northern Fulmars in Iceland.
Northern fulmars are a seabird species which resembles seagulls, being big and white, but are readily distinguished from afar by their flight on stiff wings, and up close by their tube noses. The birds breed in cliffs near the ocean. In August and September the young chicks fly out to sea, but as the poster shared by Vík Hostel points out, the young birds are still not strong enough to always make the full journey:
Northern fulmars are especially common in the cliffs of South Iceland. So, please: If you see a big white bird sitting in the road, it might be a confused fulmar. Slow down and try to avoid hitting these birds! Of course your safety and that of other motorists should always come first: Never make any sudden moves while driving, breaking or swerving suddenly, or driving on the wrong side of the road have caused many serious road accidents in S. Iceland in recent years.
The gray-and-white Northern Fulmar looks like a gull, but its stiff-winged flight and swift glides, not to mention the nostril tubes on its bill, mark it as a relative of petrels and albatrosses. These stout-bodied seabirds are abundant in the bitterly cold northern Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, where they feed over deep waters. They use their powerful sense of smell to sniff out fish, squid, and crustaceans. After a short breeding season at colonies on steep cliffs, they return to the open ocean for the rest of the year.
The northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), fulmar, or Arctic fulmar is a highly abundant seabird found primarily in subarctic regions of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. There has been one confirmed sighting in the Southern Hemisphere, with a single bird seen south of New Zealand. Fulmars come in one of two color morphs: a light one, with white head and body and gray wings and tail, and a dark one, which is uniformly gray. Though similar in appearance to gulls, fulmars are in fact members of the family Procellariidae, which include petrels and shearwaters.
The northern fulmar and its sister species, the southern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides), are the extant members of the genus Fulmarus. The fulmars are in turn a member of the order Procellariiformes, and they all share certain identifying features. First, they have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called naricorns; however, nostrils on albatrosses are on the sides of the bill, as opposed to the rest of the order, including fulmars, which have nostrils on top of the upper bill. The bills of Procellariiformes are also unique in that they are split into between seven and nine horny plates. One of these plates makes up the hooked portion of the upper bill, called the maxillary unguis. They produce a stomach oil made up of wax esters and triglycerides that is stored in the proventriculus. This can be sprayed out of their mouths as a defense against predators from a very early age, and as an energy rich food source for chicks and for the adults during their long flights. It will mat the plumage of avian predators, and can lead to their death. Finally, they also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage that helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe. This gland excretes a high saline solution from their nose.
The northern fulmar was first described as Fulmarus glacialis by Carl Linnaeus in 1761, based on a specimen from within the Arctic Circle, on Spitsbergen. The Mallemuk Mountain in Northeastern Greenland is named after the northern fulmar (Danish: Mallemuk).
The northern fulmar was formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1761 in the second edition of his book Fauna Svecica. He placed it with the other petrels in the genus Procellaria and coined the binomial name Procellaria glacialis. Linnaeus based his description mainly on the "Mallemucke" that had been described and illustrated in 1675 by the German naturalist Friderich Martens in his account of his voyage to Spitzbergen. The northern fulmar is now placed in the genus Fulmarus that was introduced in 1826 by the English naturalist James Stephens. The genus name comes from the Old Norse Fúlmár meaning "foul-mew" or "foul-gull" because of the birds' habit of ejecting a foul-smelling oil. The specific epithet glacialis is Latin for "icy".
The northern fulmar starts breeding at between six and twelve years old. It is monogamous, and forms long-term pair bonds. It returns to the same nest site year after year. The breeding season starts in May; however, the female has glands that store sperm to allow weeks to pass between copulation and the laying of the egg. During the breeding season adult Fulmars usually remain within 500 km of their breeding colony instead of traveling up to thousands of kilometers while searching for food. Their nest is a scrape on a grassy ledge or a saucer of vegetation on the ground, lined with softer material. The birds nest in large colonies Recently, they have started nesting on rooftops and buildings. Both sexes are involved in the nest-building process. A single white egg, 74 mm 51 mm (2.9 in 2.0 in), is incubated for a period of 50 to 54 days, by both sexes. The altricial chick is brooded for 2 weeks and fully fledges after 70 to 75 days. Again, both sexes are involved. During this period, the parents are nocturnal, and will even be inactive on well-lit nights.
The northern fulmar is estimated to have between 15,000,000 and 30,000,000 mature individuals that occupy an occurrence range of 28,400,000 km2 (11,000,000 sq mi) and their North American population is on the rise, hence it is listed with the IUCN as Least Concern. The range of these species increased greatly last century due to the availability of fish offal from commercial fleets, but may contract because of less food from this source and climatic change. The population increase has been especially notable in the British Isles.
Northern fulmars' stomach contents are a hallmark indicator of marine debris in marine environments because of their high abundance and wide distribution. A study of 143 northern fulmars from 2008 to 2013 found 89.5% of them containing microplastics within their gastrointestinal tracts. A mean score of 19.5 pieces of plastic and 0.461 g per individual was calculated. This is considerably higher than in past studies on northern fulmars, possibly implying increasing plastic debris in marine ecosystems and shorelines. However, more research is needed to substantiate such conclusion. Long-term data from the Netherlands dating back to the 1980s show an increase in consumer plastics and a decrease in industrial plastics in the stomach contents of fulmars. The increased plastic ingestion can occur through biomagnification: their diet consists of such invertebrates like plankton that have shown an increase of consumption of microplastics entering the ocean. By going deeper into the food web of marine life, it is evident that fulmars could be indirectly affected through tropic transfer and biomagnification, and similarly could also affect their predators ingestion of plastic pollution. With the increase in freshwater pollution of plastic debris, there may be a further rise in microplastic content of seabird gastrointestinal tracts.
From written records and excavations of human settlements, we know that Northern Fulmars have been bred on St Kilda, the Outer Hebrides, since about 800 AD. The birds were of vital importance to the islanders until the island was abandoned in 1930. Fulmar meat was dried in special huts, sustaining the islanders until the arrival of spring and fresh eggs. Their stomach oil was poured into a bag made from the dried, blown-out gut of a gannet, and used as a candle. About 100-130 young fulmars per person were killed each season, with a total of around 12,000 fulmars killed annually.
Plastic pollution is of worldwide concern; however, increases in international commercial activity in the Arctic are occurring without the knowledge of the existing threat posed to the local marine environment by plastic litter. Here, we quantify plastic ingestion by northern fulmars, Fulmarus glacialis, from Svalbard, at the gateway to future shipping routes in the high Arctic. Plastic ingestion by Svalbard fulmars does not follow the established decreasing trend away from human marine impact. Of 40 sampled individuals, 35 fulmars (87.5 %) had plastic in their stomachs, averaging at 0.08 g or 15.3 pieces per individual. Plastic ingestion levels on Svalbard exceed the ecological quality objective defined by OSPAR for European seas. This highlights an urgent need for mitigation of plastic pollution in the Arctic as well as international regulation of future commercial activity.
Within Europe, northern fulmars are defined by the Oslo-Paris Convention (OSPAR) for the North-East Atlantic as an indicator species of plastic pollution (OSPAR 2008). OSPAR recommendations state that for acceptable ecological quality (EcoQO),
Levels of plastic pollution typically decrease away from areas of high human impact and commercial activity, thereby often decreasing towards the poles (Barnes 2002, 2005; Kühn and Van Franeker 2012). This decrease can be attributed to the main sources of plastic to the ocean, including accidental losses during transport, irresponsible human behaviour, improper waste management and loss during natural disasters. However, there is no complete or recent information regarding plastic ingestion by northern fulmars at the highest breeding latitudes in Europe. Svalbard, in the European Arctic, is an area of high seabird biodiversity (Humphries and Huettmann 2014) where there will likely be a substantial increase in shipping traffic in the years to come (Smith and Stephenson 2013) and therefore potential increases in plastic pollution. Although the Arctic has long lost its wilderness status (France 1992), measurements of the extent of anthropogenic litter in the European Arctic only exist for the seafloor (Bergmann and Klages 2012). 041b061a72