About Heidi Auman, Ph.D.

Dr. Heidi Auman has studied human impacts on seabirds for much of the past twenty-five years. A pioneer on the research of plastic ingestion, she lived on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge 1993–2000, studying the effects of marine debris and pollutants on Laysan albatross. Heidi has also explored plastic ingestion in subantarctic and Tasmanian seabirds, chemical contamination in Great Lakes birds, and the effects of junk food on urban gulls. She has demonstrated that our ecological footprint has reached the farthest corners of the earth, often with disturbing consequences.

For several years, Heidi lived on an enchanting atoll called Midway, one of the most remote points on the planet—an idyllic speck of sand in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean—but an appalling contradiction confronted her: its beaches were littered with the spew of collective human consumerism from the far corners of the globe. Upon the powdery soft white sand, the wind and waves offer up old fishing buoys, lines, nets and floats, disposable lighters, toothbrushes, shoes, bottles, and even the occasional television and bloody syringe.

Heidi lived cheek-to-beak with Midway’s albatrosses, studying the amounts and effects of our garbage in their guts. Sadly, she found that over 97% of these birds contained marine debris (mainly plastic) and most of it could be measured in multiple handfuls.

Heidi is passionate about sharing her research discoveries from remote islands. Although she has published numerous scientific articles, she feels that few people other than academics will ever read these. As a world trailblazer on plastic ingestion in seabirds, she was compelled to write a book for a wider audience. Heidi hopes to send an important message aimed at younger readers who can champion solutions to this serious global issue.

Heidi grew up in Michigan in the United States, lived as a nomad studying birds around the world for many years, and eventually settled in Australia. She and her husband, James, have created their own nest on a verdant mountainside in Tasmania, surrounded by native birds.

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