Sea Turtles Swallowing Record-High Amounts of Plastic Waste

Geo Beats
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Researchers at the University of Queensland found green sea turtles ingesting twice the amount of plastic now than in the late 1980s, and more plastic than any other type of waste.

The ocean provides abundant benefits, including a completely new natural antibiotic that was developed from bacteria found in marine sediment. However, a new study on green sea turtles begs the question: Will the ocean’s benefits remain if we don’t start caring for the ocean and its creatures today?

80% of ocean waste comes from land. Human pollution affects 267 marine animal species worldwide – mostly by entanglement or ingestion.

University of Queensland researchers found green sea turtles ingesting twice the amount of plastic now than in the late 1980s, and more plastic than any other waste. Ingestion can destroy the digestive system or leach poisonous chemicals.

The age and environment of the turtles also played a role. According to Qamar Schuyler, who led the study, “Our research revealed that young ocean-going turtles were more likely to eat plastic than their older, coastal-dwelling relatives.”

Interestingly, beached turtles near New York City had ingested little to no waste while those on a primitive coastline of southern Brazil had ingested more. As Schuyler explained, “This means conducting coastal clean-ups is not the single answer.”

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