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http://www.greatocean.com.au/2014/10/29/volume-14/ http://www.greatocean.com.au/volume-1-4/ CONTENTS 104 A Bright and Lethal Tide Elizabeth Claire Alberts http://www.globalgarbage.org.br/biblioteca/Great_Ocean_Quarterly_A_Bright_and_Lethal_Tide.pdf A BRIGHT AND LETHAL TIDE Studying Plastic Ingestion by Seabirds on Lord Howe Island by Elizabeth Claire Alberts The turboprop aircraft begins its descent, dipping below a thin veil of cumulus clouds. I press my head against the window, searching for land, but only see the blue expanse of the Tasman Sea. Then the plane turns, revealing a crescent-shaped island with steep volcanic peaks and turquoise-tinted coral reef lagoons. I?ve arrived at Lord Howe Island, commonly touted as ?paradise on earth? or ?Australia?s crown jewel.? It lives up to its reputation, too, with its stunning outcrops and a rare coral reef system ? the southernmost coral reef in the world. But I?m not here to lap up the scenery or to partake in normal tourist activities like scuba diving, kayaking or hiking. Instead I?ve come to learn about the flesh-footed shearwater (Puffinus carneipes), the largest ?muttonbird? to breed on Lord Howe Island, and to understand why shearwater chicks wash up (or ?wreck?) on the island?s coastlines every year. I first meet Dr. Jennifer Lavers, a slender, fair-haired Canadian with boundless energy, at a ?Two Hands Project? beach cleanup at Manly Beach in Sydney. As we sift bottle caps, drinking straws and plastic fragments from the hot sand, I ask about her work with flesh-footed shearwaters on Lord Howe Island. These birds are threatened, she tells me, and she believes that plastic ingestion has a lot to do with it. When shearwaters mistake plastic for food, it can lead to starvation or poison them with heavy metal contamination. Fledglings, or chicks, seem particularly susceptible to death by plastic, probably because they can?t cough it up.