Sea Turtles and Plastic
In 2009, marine biologists with Disney Animal Programs in Melbourne Beach, Florida, discovered a green sea turtle that was having trouble digesting food. They found that a piece of plastic had lodged inthe turtle gastrointestinal tract. When biologists removed the obstruction, the turtle defecated 74 foreign objects in the subsequent month. Among the items documented were four types of latex balloons, fivedifferent types of string, nine different types of soft plastic, four different types of hard plastic, a piece of carpet like material, and two tar balls to boot.
The list of items from this one turtle read like a catalog of a growing and deadly concern for virtually all marine animals single use plastics are having a lethal effect on animals living in the sea.
Experts on plastic pollution from around the world,determined to solve thisgrowing problem,have gathered this week for the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, a mecca for green sea turtles.
Now, in a recent editorial published in theMarine Turtle Newsletter,marine biologistsColette Wabnitz, PhD, of the University of BritishColumbia andWallace Nichols, PhD, of the California Academy of Sciences,lay out the entire disturbing history of plastics in the ocean, from the first scientific report to the latest surveys, to call attention to the concerns from 1972 to today. The report is grim, but provides a rayof hope in the form of proactive steps that can and should be undertaken to curtail overproduction and careless discard of single use plastics. The report firmly lays the blame at the feet of so called plastics: commonly used beer cups, waterbottles and caps, grocery bags, plastic utensils, and so forth, intended to be u nike air max sed just once and thrown away. While these plastics are cheap and convenient, they are also durable and buoyant making for apotent and deadly combination in the water.
Though plastics like these do break down from exposure to sunlight and other elements, the molecules of plastic never fully biodegrade they just break intosmaller and smaller pieces but never completely disappear. Eventually, many of these small particles get blown or washed into tributaries that feed rivers which flow to the ocean where plastics coalesce inocean currents.
Among the more startling facts reported is that 1 billion single use plastic bags are distributed free of charge every day, of which an estimate 0.2 0.3% make their way to the ocean. Even that small nike air max percentmeans hundreds of millions of bags each year are left to float in the sea. In particular, the crisis has had a deleterious effect on sea turtles, which mistake the floating bags for jellyfish, a favorite food.
All seven species of sea turtle are lis nike air max ted as endangered on the World Conservation Union List of species in danger of extinction, a situation made even more urgent for many animals by plastic pollution.
year I counted 76 plastic bags in the ocean in just one minute while standing in the bow of our sea turtle research boat at sea in Indonesia reports Dr. Wallace J. science is becoming crystal clear: sea turtles and plastic pollution don mix well. Sea turtles have spent the past 100 million years roamingseas free of plastic pollution, and are now sadly the poster animal for impacts of our throw away society on endangered species states Nichols.
Other facts reported by Wabnitz and Nichols and explicitly illustrated in the accompanying photo library, include:
Worldwide nike air max , plastic pollution is adding to the stress on endangered ocean wildlife, like sea turtles;
Plastic can be ingested by or entangle sea turtles and can physically interfere with their nesting activity on beaches when it accumulates in large amounts;
The pdf of the report and a collection of images from around the world depicting in excruciating detail the impact of plastic on sea turtles can be found at:.