• The unprecedented August 2018 flood has washed out a huge amount of plastics from the land and rivers into the ocean, threatening marine life and underwater ecosystem.
  • Now, scientists have come across evidence that migratory birds are also victims of the plastic discards.
  • Nisanth, a research recorded the case of a Lesser Black-backed Gull or Heuglin’s Gull (Larus fuscus heuglini) with a plastic bottle ring caught in its beak.
  • The species is a winter visitor to Kerala and was seen at Ponnani.
  • The ring had pierced the bird’s beak and formed a ring around its eyes, obstructing its vision during flight.
  • Heuglin’s Gull breeds in the tundra of northern Russia and migrate south to southwest Asia, including India during winter.
  • Scientists feel that nylon fishing nets thrown back into the ocean (often referred to as ghost nets) or carried out to the sea during the flood could also pose a serious hazard for marine life.
  • A Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis), a winter visitor to Kerala and found at Thottappally in Alappuzha, was documented with a discarded gill net wrapped around its beak, limbs and wings
  • The plastics found on the body of the bird seemed to have affected their behaviour, as they have to feed on the discarded food from other birds in the flock
  • This seems to have forced them to depend on other members of the same species or even different species for food and to escape from predators.”