PLASTIC FOUND IN GUTS OF
EVERY SEA TURTLE SPECIES
Fragments of plastic have been found in every single species of turtle in a new study spanning the world’s oceans. Microplastic particles and tiny fibres were found in the guts of more than 100 turtle carcasses from the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean. A large proportion of the material extracted came in the form of fibres like those used in clothing, cigarette filters and fishing nets, but the scientists also found microbeads of the kind found in cosmetics.
The team was searching for synthetic particles less than 5mm in length, and found a total of 800 distributed among every turtle they studied, representing all seven species of these marine reptiles.
Likely sources of the particles are thought to be polluted seawater and sediments, or consumption of contaminated prey and plants.
“The effect of these particles on turtles is unknown,” said Dr Emily Duncan from the University of Exeter, who led the study. “Their small size means they can pass through the gut without causing a blockage, as is frequently reported with larger plastic fragments. However, future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly.”