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Are cliff-nesting seabirds abundant in the North Atlantic and Pacific. They range further out into the open ocean than many other birds, feeding at the surface and gliding characteristically on stiff downward-curved wings. They eat almost anything and, because they do not regurgitate, scientists are able to assess the extent to which they are affected by marine pollution from what they ingest. In 2003 it was found that the stomachs of 96% of dead fulmars that were picked up contained 0.6 gm of plastic fragments, almost double the amount found in the early 1980s. They are also known to ingest bits of rope and polystyrene cups, mattress foam, toys, tools, and cigarette ends. There are two forms of northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), a pale, gull-like form and a dark, shearwater-like form. In the Southern Ocean there is the southern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides) which is a surface feeder and two species of giant fulmar (Macronectes spp.) that are aggressive scavengers.

Fulmars have no natural predators and can live to a great age. One female which frequently nests on the Orkney Isles has been monitored by scientists since 1951 and, at 50, became the world's oldest known wild bird.

M. V. Angel

Subjects: Maritime History.

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