First record of plastic debris in the stomach of a hooded seal pup from the Greenland Sea
Plastic debris is globally found around the world and the remote Arctic is no exception. Arctic true seals are sentinel species of marine pollution and represent the link between marine food webs and Arctic apex predators like polar bears and humans. With regard to true seals, ingested macroplastics have never been reported in an Arctic species. We harvested 10 harp seals Pagophilus groenlandicus and 8 hooded seals Cystophora cristata from the breeding grounds in the pack ice of the Greenland Sea. The digestive tract was inspected exclusively for the presence of macroplastics (>5 mm). Two pieces of single-use plastic were found in the stomach of a weaned hooded seal pup. This study indicates that young Arctic marine predators may ingest macroplastics, and therefore may be at risk during their early stages of life due to human caused plastic pollution even in the remote Arctic pack ice.