The oceans cover more than 90% of the planet’s habitable surface and are home to more than 250,000 known species. These include, of course, hydrocarbons (who doesn’t remember the Erika tragedy), which generate oil slicks that devastate biodiversity. Then there’s ghost fishing, responsible for the deaths of over 136,000 whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles and seabirds (source).
Marine waste, and more specifically plastic waste, is also a major pressure on this environment and its species. The average time a plastic bag is used is 20 minutes, with degradation in the environment (into micro and then nano particles of plastic) lasting an estimated 500 years. These anthropogenic pressures come on top of natural ones, such as storms and disease.
This year, an H5N1 variant of avian flu is having a particular impact on seabirds. Northern gannets are particularly hard hit by this unprecedentedly virulent crisis. In just a few months, the Seven Islands colony was decimated by the pandemic. Against this backdrop, it is more important than ever to spare the avifauna during this difficult period. While we can’t do anything about avian flu, we can do something about the pressures we put on our environment.
The LPO has put together a FAQ on avian flu, so don’t hesitate to consult it to learn more about the subject.