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Marine debris is selected as nesting material by the brown booby (Sula leucogaster) within the Swain Reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Many seabirds are impacted by marine debris through its presence in foraging and nesting areas. To determine the extent of this problem, marine debris use in nest material of the brown booby (Sula leucogaster) in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, was investigated. Nine cays were examined using beach and nest surveys. On average, four marine debris items were found per nest (n = 96) with 58.3% of surveyed nests containing marine debris. The source of marine debris in nests and transects were primarily oceanic. Hard plastic items dominated both nest (56.8%) and surveyed beaches (72.8%), however only two item types were significantly correlated between these surveys. Nest surveys indicated higher levels of black and green items compared to beach transects. This selectivity for colours and items suggest these nests are not good indicators of environmental loads. This is the first study to examine S. leucogaster nests for marine debris in this location.