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Soft plastics killed 40% of seabirds in marine debris study

Balloons are the deadliest item of plastic marine debris for seabirds and have been linked to high death rates from gastrointestinal blockages and starvation, an Australian study has found.

Data analysis of the deaths of more than 1,700 seabirds from 51 species found that one in three had eaten plastic. Balloons were 32 times more likely to kill birds than ingestion of hard plastics such as bottle fragments.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Tasmania in Hobart, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.

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