102 sea turtles found with plastic in stomachs

Posted on 2 April 2019

Researchers from the UK conducted a study on 102 sea turtles to find out how many contained plastic in their stomachs. The sample included turtles from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, and each one was found to have plastic in its digestive system.

With backing from the University of Exeter and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), a marine conservation group, the researchers found plastics, microplastics and many other synthetic items in the turtles’ digestive systems. The findings were published in a paper titled ‘Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles’.

Speaking to The Village News, Penelope Lindeque, a co-author of the paper, said, ‘This study provides more evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, healthy and productive oceans for future generations.’

The contents of the contamination and the most common items included cigarettes, marine equipment, car tires and polyester clothing. There were also microbeads found inside most of the animals.

Co-author of the paper, Dr. Emily Duncan spoke to The Village News and said, ‘Future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly. For example, they may possibly carry contaminants, bacteria or viruses, or they may affect the turtle at a cellular or sub-cellular level.”

Both Lindequie and Duncan said that the danger of microbeads and other plastics should not be underestimated. Large plastics can be a serious choking hazard to the animals if consumed, whereas micro-particles can harm these animals in other ways.

The researchers also concluded that turtles and other marine life are suffering as a consequence of unfulfilled promises from various governmental bodies and plastic producers, who have stated that they will make an effort to reduce plastic pollution but are yet to do so, as the study reveals.

Image source: Unsplash

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