Microplastics present in all marine turtles examined in new study

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 6 December 2018

Researchers have found evidence of microplastics in the digestive systems of an entire sample set of over one hundred individual marine turtles, taken from widely dispersed locations around the world. The sample set included all of the marine turtle species found globally, from animals found dead across a wide oceanic range. Every individual studied was found to have plastic in its gut.

Green Turtle swimming
© Jeremy Bishop

It is important that we better identify and understand any threats posed by micro-plastics and reduce them at source.

Dr Peter Richardson

The researchers say that it is likely that eating prey which itself has consumed plastic may be a significant source for turtles, as well as their direct consumption of plastics from the sea and the seabed.

Dr Peter Richardson, MCS Head of Ocean Recovery, says: “While we know that ingestion of larger pieces of plastic can kill turtles, we do not yet know how micro-plastic ingestion affects them. Turtles are seriously affected by many other threats such as climate change, fisheries bycatch and habitat destruction, so it is important that we better identify and understand any threats posed by micro-plastics and reduce them at source”.

“This is another great piece of global research from our partners at the University of Exeter. Given what we know about the scale of plastic pollution in our Ocean, the results of this study are not at all surprising, and remind us that our plastic culture is affecting marine life across the planet”.

Read the paper Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles

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