Heidi Acampora


Postdoctoral researcher

Project Title: Policy compliant monitoring for marine litter
Supervisors: Dr Ian O’Connor & Dr Philip White

My research aims to assess the potential of seabirds as a monitoring tool for marine litter in Ireland. Countless marine species have been known to ingest debris that could mimic their prey. Seabirds are highly affected. Because debris such as plastics is buoyant, seabirds mistake them for food when searching for prey on the sea surface. These pieces of plastics can be particularly hard to regurgitate for some species and they tend to accumulate them in their stomach, leaving no space for real food and leading the animal to starvation.

Beached birds can be used as a good environmental tool reflecting the health of our waters. In fact, they have been heavily used as indicators of good environmental status throughout the North Sea, under OSPAR (Oslo-Paris Convention) and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). My research intends to test the limitations and applicability of the monitoring of marine litter through fulmars in Ireland, and at the same time to test for other alternatives that would be best fitting regionally, therefore complying with policy, through the OSPAR agreement and the EU MSFD.


PhD Aquatic Science. Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland, 2013-2017.

Dissertation Title: Interactions between seabirds and pollution in Irish waters.

MSc (Joint) Ghent University, Belgium; Oviedo University, Spain; University of Queensland, Australia – 2010-2012.

Dissertation Title: Assessing the impacts of plastic ingestion by short-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) in Northern Australia
Supervisor: Dr Britta Denise Hardesty

BSc Biological Sciences
Estacio de Sa University, Brazil, 2002-2006

Dissertation Title: Effects of fishing nets on sea turtle populations at Prainha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Supervisor: Dr Geraldo Espinola

Professional Memberships
Brazilian Marine Litter Association – Co-Founder

Conference Participation

World Seabird Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, 2015
UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Expert Workshop to Prepare Guidance on Preventing & Mitigating the Significant Adverse Impacts of Marine Debris on Marine & Coastal Biodiversity & Habitats, Baltimore, USA, 2014
Annual Fulmar Workshop, Texel, Netherlands, 2014 & 2015
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Meeting, Basel, Switzerland, 2014
Fate and Impact of Microplastics in Marine Ecosystems (MICRO), Brest, France, 2014
VLIZ Young Marine Scientists Day, Bruges, Belgium, 2011
NovemBS Symposium, Ghent, Belgium, 2011
Euroceans Meeting, Ostend, Belgium, 2010
Brazilian Zoology Congress, Londrina, Brazil, 2006

Shore Thing Ireland – National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
Personal Sea Survival Techniques – SeaTec Maritime Training, Ireland
Animal and Science Aquatic Training – Laboratory Animal Science and Training Ireland
Statistics Workshop – The University of Queensland, Australia
Marine Data Management – UNESCO, Ghent University, Belgium
Diving – Grupo Ensidesa de Actividades Subacuaticas, Spain
Advanced Spanish – Oviedo University, Spain
Basic French – Ghent University, Belgium
Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles – Tamar Project, Brazil
Rehabilitation of Sea Birds and Mammals – Rehabilitation Centre of Marine Animals, Brazil

Research Interests
My main interest is plastics debris and their interaction with biota, especially seabirds and sea turtles, and how that can be translated into policy. At the moment, I am building a network of volunteers to monitor the beach for stranded seabirds – The Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey (RIBBS) all across Ireland so we can have an idea of the current status of plastic pollution affecting seabirds.

Previous Research Experience
Brazilian Marine Litter Association, Global Garbage Brazil, Brazil
Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity, FUNBIO, Brazil
Moreton Bay Research Station, MBRS, Australia
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, FIOCRUZ, Brazil
Endangered Wildlife Trust, EWT, Costa Rica
Prainha National Park, Brazil

Selected Publications

Acampora, Heidi; Lyashevska, Olga; Van Franeker, Ian Andries; O’Connor, Ian. (2016). The use of beached bird surveys for marine litter monitoring in Ireland. Marine Environmental Research, v. 120, p. 122-129.

Acampora, Heidi ; Townsend, Kathy A. ; Hardesty, Britta Denise. (2013). Comparing plastic ingestion in juvenile and adult stranded short-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) in eastern Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 78, p. 63-68.

Poster Presentation: Plastic Ingestion by Short-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) in Northern Australia. Fate and Impact of Microplastics in Marine Ecosystems (MICRO), Brest, France, 2014

Invited Lecture: Guest Speaker on GMIT Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology Seminar Series 2014. “Policy Compliant Monitor for Marine Litter”

Guest Speaker:

  • Clean Coasts Roadshow – Galway, Waterford, Kerry, Donegal – Ireland, 2015. “Seabirds as a Monitoring Tool for Marine Litter”
  • World Oceans’ Day – Dublin, Ireland, 2015. “Seabirds as a Monitoring Tool for Marine Litter”
  • World Seabird Conference – Cape Town, South Africa, 2015. “Assessing the Utility of Seabird Wrecks for Plastic Debris Monitoring”

Contact Details
Email: Heidi.Acampora@gmit.ie
Telephone number(s): +353 (91) 742502
Postal Address: Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Galway, Ireland

Related Links
Plastic Tides

Blog for the Brazilian Marine Litter Association (in Portuguese)

Interview for Brazilian Globo TV (in Portuguese)

GMIT request for beached birds

Connacht Tribune Interview

Presentation at Ocean Talks

Eco Eye Interview


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