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British gulls transport plastic waste to Spanish lake
“Gulls are highly mobile and act as highly efficient biovectors” – Chris Thaxter.
Ingested landfill waste is contributing to plastic pollution in wetlands.

British gulls wintering in Spain are transporting significant amounts of plastic waste and depositing it in a vital wetland habitat, a study has found.

The birds are ingesting the plastic alongside other waste products as they forage on British landfill sites. After they travel to Spain, it is then being regurgitated in pellets as they gather in wetlands to roost.

Researchers from the Doñana Biological Station, working in collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), sampled pellets and faeces from lesser black-backed gulls in the Fuente de Piedra lake nature reserve in Malaga.

They found that 86 per cent of pellets contained plastics, and 94 per cent contained other litter such as glass and textiles. Polyethylene was the most common plastic found. Faeces contributed just one per cent of the plastic mass deposited.

Using GPS data which tracked gulls from UK breeding sites alongside census data, the researchers estimated that an average of 400kg of plastic was deposited in the lake by gulls each year.

The Fuente de Piedra lagoon is an important habitat for wildlife and home to the largest colony of greater flamingos in the Iberian Peninsula.

Chris Thaxter, senior research ecologist with the BTO, said: “This study suggests that the translocation of harmful plastics could be more widespread and problematic than we’d assumed.

“Gulls are highly mobile and act as highly efficient biovectors, transporting these pollutants considerable distances, posing yet more threats to important wetland habitats across the globe.”   

The study has been published in the journal Science Direct.

Image © Shutterstock

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Bristol uni celebrates 75 years of teaching vets

News Story 1
 The University of Bristol's veterinary school is celebrating 75 years of educating veterinary students.

Since the first group of students were admitted in October 1949, the school has seen more than 5,000 veterinary students graduate.

Professor Jeremy Tavare, pro vice-chancellor and executive dean for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: "I'm delighted to be celebrating Bristol Veterinary School's 75 years.

"Its excellence in teaching and research has resulted in greater understanding and some real-world changes benefiting the health and welfare of both animals and humans, which is testament to the school's remarkable staff, students and graduates." 

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News Shorts
RCVS HQ to temporarily relocate

The headquarters of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is to move temporarily, ahead of its permanent relocation later in the year.

From Monday, 26 February 2024, RCVS' temporary headquarters will be at 2 Waterhouse Square, Holborn, London. This is within walking distance of its current rented offices at The Cursitor, Chancery Lane.

RCVS have been based at The Cursitor since February 2022, following the sale of its Westminster premises the previous March.

However, unforeseen circumstances relating to workspace rental company WeWork filing for bankruptcy means The Cursitor will no longer operate as a WeWork space. The new temporary location is still owned by WeWork.

RCVS anticipates that it will move into its permanent location at Hardwick Street, Clerkenwell, later on in the year.