Bird deaths linked to discarded plastic tape

Guillemot found dead on Tolsta beach
Guillemot found dead on Tolsta beach

David and Anna Batty from the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles have contacted RSPB Scotland to alert the conservation charity to the harm being done to local wildlife by discarded plastic tape.

Mr Batty said: “We are alarmed about the impact party balloons are having on marine life. We regularly pick up the tape that is attached to the balloons on Garry beach in Tolsta. Last week we found a dead guillemot with the tape wound around its leg.

“Whilst it cannot be proved that the tape killed the bird it shows how easily the tape gets caught in feet and wings.

“We also pick up about ten to twenty long pieces of plastic tape each week used, presumably, to fasten bait boxes but then discarded overboard. It also must catch in gills or other parts of fish.

“We know that the stuff we pick up off the beach is literally a drop in the ocean of sea debris however, if people just picked up obvious dangerous litter off the beach and put it in the bin rather than let the tide take it back out, it would help a bit to counter the debris soup in the oceans.”

RSPB conservation manager Stuart Benn said: “There is no doubt that rubbish in the seas is having a serious effect on the marine environment. David and Anna are to be congratulated for doing their bit to help offset the impact that human activities are having. I hope many more people will follow their example.

“We know that much of our marine life, above and below the waves, is disappearing under increasing pressure from human activities. For instance, sandeels, the staple food for many seabirds, are just not there anymore and chicks are starving to death.

“For that reason the RSPB is campaigning to have more protection given to the precious marine habitats around the coast. We urge readers to consider signing our petition at: Hopefully we can begin to turn the tide.”