Green sea turtles ingesting more plastic

2013-08-09 11:02
<a href=\\>Shutterstock</a>


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Endangered green turtles are ingesting more man-made debris, including potentially lethal plastic products, than ever before, a new Australian study has shown.

The majestic turtles are significantly more likely to swallow plastic than they were in the 1980s, the study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, showed.

The research reviewed scientific literature on the ingestion of man-made rubbish in the ocean by sea turtles published since 1985.


It showed that six of the world's seven species of sea turtles have been found to ingest debris, and all six are listed as globally vulnerable or endangered.

"We found that for green sea turtles, the likelihood that a sea turtle has ingested debris has nearly doubled in the last 25 years," Qamar Schuyler from the University of Queensland, who led the study, told AFP on Friday.

"Specifically for green turtles, it does appear that they are eating a lot more debris than they used to."

The study found that the likelihood of a green turtle, which can grow to 1.5 metres and live for 80 years, ingesting debris jumped from about 30% in 1985 to nearly 50% in 2012.

The research said it was clear that since the first data was recorded more than 100 years ago, the amount of refuse leatherback turtles had ingested had also increased.

However, between 1985 and 2012 their intake had been stable.

Plastic products eaten by turtles and other marine life can be lethal, killing the animals by either blocking their stomachs and starving them or through puncturing their intestinal system.

Schuyler said ingested plastics could also be releasing toxins into the animals, either via chemicals in the plastics themselves or which the products have absorbed as they have floated around the ocean.

"The animal may not die of that right away but it may impact things like their reproductive cycle and that has longer-term consequences," she said.

Global response

Schuyler, a doctoral candidate, said the data showed that turtles washing up with lots of plastic in them were not necessarily found in the most polluted or populated places.

"So it means that they are ingesting that debris usually somewhere farther away from where they end up," she said, adding that this suggested that a global response was needed to counter the problem.

"What we really need to look at is a large scale movement to stop debris entering the oceans."

The research, analysing 37 studies published from 1985 to 2012 which reported on data collected from before 1900 through to 2011, found that turtles in nearly all regions ingested debris, most commonly plastic.

"Our results show clearly that debris ingestion by sea turtles is a global phenomenon of increasing magnitude," the study said.

Read more on:    australia  |  pollution  |  animals  |  environment

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Prince George the green prince?

Prince Charles hopes his grandson's love of the outdoors will become a passion for the environment.



One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer
Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods – What climate change really means for us

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly


The pace may be slow today and you may struggle to get things off the ground level, but it is important to focus on the more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.