Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Green Sea Turtle Tumors Linked to Nitrogen Runoff From Farming

Green sea turtles are an endangered species, at risk from poaching, incidental take in fishing gear and coastal development. But they also suffer from fibropapillomatosis—the leading cause of death in this endangered species—which causes tumors to grow along sea turtles’ faces, flippers and internal organs.

A green sea turtle with tumors (Chelonia mydas). Photo credit: Peter Bennett & Ursula Keuper-Bennett / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists recently grew their understanding of fibropapillomatosis, finding that nitrogen pollution from urban and farm pollution in Hawaii is the culprit behind this sad disease. Nitrogen ends up in the algae that these turtles feed on, culminating in a “nutrient cascade.” The authors recently published their study published in Peer J, which adds to a 2010 study that fibropapillomatosis to be predominant in areas of heavy runoff.

Excess nitrogen is stored in seaweed in the form of arginine, an amino acid. The scientists found high levels of arginine in both polluted waters and sea turtle tumors, and also found higher levels of arginine in an invasive red-algae species that can comprise 90 percent of some sea turtle diets. Because the sea turtles are herbivorous, they must consume twice as much of the invasive algae to get the same caloric intake they would from native algae, according to a Duke University press release. Researchers also found proline and glycine in the algae—two amino acids found in cancerous human tumors.

Though the sight of tumors growing on sea turtles is a sad one, the study’s findings offer insight that could inform better sea turtle conservation and management. The researchers also say that their findings can be useful in protecting fish, plants and coral reef communities as a whole who also suffer from pollution.

“If research continues to support this hypothesis, we probably need to reconsider our current ways of managing coastal nutrients,” study co-author Kyle Van Houtan said in the release.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

People’s Consumptive Demands Undermine Planet’s Life-Support Systems

35,000 Walruses Invade Alaska Beach As Climate Change Melts Sea Ice

Half the World’s Animal Population Vanished Since 1970

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less