PLAS­TIC FOUND IN GUTS OF

EVERY SEA TUR­TLE SPECIES

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - HAVE YOU HEARD? -

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.”

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