Marine debris data were collected at Bird Island and King Edward Point, South Georgia, at Signy Island, South Orkneys and at Goudier Island, Antarctic Peninsula for the period April 2014 to March 2015. Surveys of beached marine debris at Bird Island recorded a total of 289 and 275 items during winter (April to September 2014) and summer (October 2014 to March 2015) respectively. For the first time since records began (in 1991), surveys at Signy Island (operational during summer only; 24 November 2014 to 16 March 2015) recorded no incidences of beached marine debris. One item of beached marine debris was recorded at Goudier Island. The first record of an entangled juvenile elephant seal was made at Bird Island. Entanglements of five Antarctic fur seals were observed at Bird Island, six at King Edward Point, with no marine mammal entanglements observed at Signy Island or Goudier Island. In total, 132 items of marine debris were found in association with seabird colonies at Bird Island, most commonly in association with wandering albatrosses (88 items). Two incidences of entangled wandering albatrosses were recorded, one adult and one chick. There were no observed incidences of hydrocarbon soiling at any site during the reporting period. Overall, the occurrence of beached marine debris was above the long-term mean at Bird Island during both winter and summer. The incidence of marine mammal entanglements was below the long-term mean at all sites surveyed. Debris associated with seabird colonies was above the mean level for wandering albatrosses and grey-headed albatrosses, but below the mean for black-browed albatrosses and giant petrels.
Dr Chris Darby (United Kingdom)