Environment

Microplastics discovered in the guts of sea turtles all over the world

Microplastics discovered in th...
A new study has found microplastics in the guts of 102 sea turtles
A new study has found microplastics in the guts of 102 sea turtles
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A new study has found microplastics in the guts of 102 sea turtles
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A new study has found microplastics in the guts of 102 sea turtles

There remains a lot we don't know about the whereabouts of the all the plastic waste that washes into the ocean each year, but scientists are continuing to discover bits and pieces in increasingly concerning places. The latest study in this area has uncovered evidence of plastic waste in the stomachs of sea turtles hailing from all corners of the globe, shedding new light on the far-reaching implications of our plastic pollution problem.

The trouble with the millions of metric tons of plastic waste that make their way into the sea each year (aside from the obvious) is the fact that much of it is broken down by ocean forces into tiny fragments called microplastics. Though there are advanced distribution maps and other tracking tools in development, we currently have no way of knowing where most of it ends up.

But there are some undesirable places we know microplastics do exist, and the list keeps on growing. This year alone scientists have found various microplastics in human stools all over the world and packed into Arctic sea ice in huge abundance. They also discovered them in 93 percent of bottled water.

The concern is that we don't really know what effect the ingestion of plastics can have on living creatures, because our understanding of the reactions between its chemicals and those organisms is very limited. To that end, the World Health Organization launched a health review earlier this year to try and fill the gaps.

Which brings us to the turtles. Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory carried out autopsies on 102 turtles from the Pacific, Mediterranean and the Atlantic oceans, covering all seven species. They found microplastics in every single one, with the most common type being the fibers uses in clothes, cigarette filters and fishing nets.

"Their small size means they can pass through the gut without causing a blockage, as is frequently reported with larger plastic fragments," said lead author Dr Emily Duncan from the University of Exeter. "However, future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly. For example, they may possibly carry contaminants, bacteria or viruses, or they may affect the turtle at a cellular or subcellular level. This requires further investigation."

The research was published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Source: University of Exeter

2 comments
CAVUMark
I can't believe I live in a world where every turtle eats plastic.
SimonClarke
Micro Plastic found in, pick an animal, all over the world. Plastic clogging the rivers of, pick a country. Plastic in the, pick a place, part of the sea will not degrade for a thousand years. We understand there is an issue, we know it is from decades of just throwing things away. Don't report any more issues, report fixes. What can I, as a customer, do to reduce the amount of plastic waste getting into the environment? It won't make a difference to the amount of waste out there this year or next year but it will begin to have an effect. Also what can I do as a business owner? Look into companies like Vegware, (I am not associated to them in any way, I just love their products). All of Vegware's products are 100% biodegradable creating compost, this includes their plastic.