More Turtles are Eating Marine Plastic Pollution; Can Lead to Decline in their Numbers

  August 2, 2021

Plastic pollution creates an evolutionary trap for young sea turtles, says a new study. The study is done by researchers from the University of Exeter, UK. The study included 121 sea turtles from five of the world’s seven species: green, loggerhead, hawksbill, olive ridley, and flatback.

They found plastic inside juvenile turtles along both the east and west coasts of Australia. Sea turtles usually hatch on beaches and spent their early years traveling on ocean currents. But now these currents contain large quantities of plastics. Many young turtles are swallowing these plastics as they have no specialised diet. This evolved habit is bringing the turtles into highly polluted areas such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Juvenile sea turtles (Up to 50cm) eat plastic fragments up to about 5mm to 10mm in length. Most of these plastics are made of polyethylene and polypropylene polymers. Ingesting plastic at a juvenile age can lead to a population decline of sea turtles, warned the researchers.

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