As part of an investigation of the effect of plastic ingestion on seabirds in Hawaii, we necropsied the carcasses of 137 Laysan albatross (Diomedea immutabilis) chicks from Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean during the summer of 1987. Selected tissues were collected for microbiological, parasitological, toxicological or histopathological examinations. Dehydration was the most common cause of death. Lead poisoning, trauma, emaciation (starvation) and trombidiosis were other causes of death; nonfatal nocardiosis and avian pox also were present. There was no evidence that ingested plastic caused mechanical lesions or mortality in 1987, but most of the chicks had considerably less plastic in them than chicks from earlier years. Human activity (lead poisoning and vehicular trauma) caused mortality at Midway Atoll and represented additive mortality for pre-fledgling albatrosses.
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Vol. 26 • No. 3