Trash in our turtles: Study finds microplastics in guts of sea turtles

Poor, poor sea turtles.

A new study from Global Change Biology discovered plastic in the guts of sea turtles across the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean. The study observed more than 100 sea turtles of all seven species, and in all of them, found microplastics.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, in collaboration with Greenpeace Research Laboratories, conducted autopsies — also called necropsies — on “turtles that had died either by stranding or by being accidentally caught by fishermen,” a CNN article said. The turtles came from North Carolina, Northern Cyprus and Queensland, Australia.

The study found more than 800 synthetic particles inside the turtles’ gastrointestinal tracts, but only part of the animals’ guts were tested. The synthetic particles included: cigarettes, tires and clothing and marine equipment like fishing nets and ropes.

“The ubiquity of the presence of the particles and fibers underlines the gravity of the situation in the oceans and our need to proceed with firm and decisive action on the misuse of plastics,” senior study author Brendan Godley, professor of conservation science at the University of Exeter, told CNN.

We’ve always known our waters are polluted. This study, though, is eye-opening and sad. I’m not a scientist, but I think it’s clear this study is just another indicator that plastic pollution is widespread in oceans all over the world. I hope environmentalists and scientists can spring into action after discovering how much plastic sea turtles are actually consuming.

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