Oceanic plastic pollution is a growing worldwide environmental concern, endangering numerous marine species. Pinnipeds (seals) are particularly susceptible to entanglement, especially in abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear and packaging straps. In this review published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, Emma Jepsen and Nico de Bruyn compiled a comprehensive global review of all pinniped entanglements reported in published literature over the last 40 years.
The majority of published records of entanglement emanate from North America and Oceania and are focused on a few populous species (notably, California sea lions and Antarctic fur seals). Reporting bias, skewed research effort and incomplete understanding of plastic pollution and pinniped abundance overlap, combine to cloud our understanding of the entanglement problem. Broader geographical effort in entanglement data collection, reporting of such data, and improved quantification of the proportions of populations, sexes and ages that are most susceptible, will aid our efforts to pinpoint priority mitigation measures. Click here to read the full article.