University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, 17101 Point Lena Loop Road, Juneau, AK 99801, United States of America; University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Biological Sciences, 3101 Science Circle, Anchorage, AK 99508, United States of America. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phthalates, plastic-derived contaminants, are of increasing global concern. This study quantified phthalates in seabirds collected across >1700 km of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and contributes to a body of knowledge on plastic contaminants in marine wildlife. We measured six phthalate congeners in seabirds representing ten species and four feeding guilds. Phthalates were detected in 100% of specimens (n = 115), but varied among individuals (3.64-539.64 ng/g). DEHP and DBP occurred at an order of magnitude higher than other congeners. Total phthalates did not vary geographically, but differed among feeding guilds, with significantly higher concentrations in diving plankton-feeders compared to others. Plastic particles were detected in 36.5% of randomly subsampled seabird stomachs (n = 74), suggesting plastic ingestion as a potential route of phthalate exposure. Our findings suggest feeding behavior could influence exposure risk for seabirds and lend further evidence to the ubiquity of plastic pollutants in marine ecosystems.