Quantcast

100% of Sea Turtles in Global Study Found With Plastics in Their Bellies

Animals
All 102 sea turtles necropsied by scientists were found to have ingested plastics. Kirt Edblom / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Julia Conley

A new study of sea turtles in three oceans and seas drove home the point, green campaigners said Wednesday, that the world's governments and corporations are not doing enough to reduce plastic pollution—and marine life is suffering as a result.

One hundred and two sea turtles inhabiting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea were the subject of the study by the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom—and all 102 of the creatures were found with plastics, microplastics and other synthetics in their digestive systems.


"From our work over the years we have found microplastic in nearly all the species of marine animals we have looked at; from tiny zooplankton at the base of the marine food web to fish larvae, dolphins and now turtles," said Penelope Lindeque, who co-authored the report. "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."

A total of about 800 particles less than half a centimeter long were found in the turtles' guts, with scientists finding an average of 150 pieces of plastic in each animal. The Mediterranean was found to be the most polluted body of water the scientists studied, with some turtles' bodies containing 500 plastics.

"How many more studies like this do we need for corporations to take strong action to curb the production of throwaway plastic which is predicted to quadruple by 2050?" said Graham Forbes, global plastic project leader for Greenpeace USA. "This global environmental crisis must be tackled at the source for the sake of marine life, the world's oceans, our health and our communities."

The study provides "a clear sign that we need to act to better govern global waste," study author Brendan Godley told Plastics News. "It really is a great shame that many or even all of the world's sea turtles have now ingested microplastics."

The most common materials found inside the turtles were pieces of tires, marine equipment, cigarettes and clothing. Microbeads used in some cosmetic products, which the UK banned earlier this year following the U.S. ban in 2015, were also found in many of the turtles.

Smaller plastics may not present a choking danger for sea turtles as larger materials do, the study's authors noted, but they can cause other health problems for the animals.

"Future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly," lead author Dr. Emily Duncan said in a statement. "For example, they may possibly carry contaminants, bacteria or viruses, or they may affect the turtle at a cellular or sub-cellular level. This requires further investigation."

"Our society's addiction to throwaway plastic is fueling a global environmental crisis that must be tackled at source," said Louise Edge, an oceans campaign coordinator at Greenpeace.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less
The climate crisis often intensifies systems of oppression. Rieko Honma / Stone / Getty Images Plus

By Mara Dolan

We see the effects of the climate crisis all around us in hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels, but our proximity to these things, and how deeply our lives are changed by them, are not the same for everyone. Frontline groups have been leading the fight for environmental and climate justice for centuries and understand the critical connections between the climate crisis and racial justice, economic justice, migrant justice, and gender justice. Our personal experiences with climate change are shaped by our experiences with race, gender, and class, as the climate crisis often intensifies these systems of oppression.

Read More Show Less