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Ocean plastic is killing sea turtles

Ocean plastic is killing sea turtles

A new study published in the journal Endangered Species Research on December 11, 2017 confirms; hundreds of sea turtles die every year after getting tangled in trash – such as plastic ‘six pack’ holders and discarded fishing gear – in oceans and on beaches.

Shore Buddies entangled sea turtle

The study, covering the major oceans where turtles live, discovered that 91 percent of the entangled turtles were found dead. They also suffered serious wounds from entanglement, leading to maiming, amputation or choking. Others that survived were forced to drag discarded rubbish or debris with them.

The survey found turtles are being tangled up in lost fishing nets, plastic twine and nylon fishing line, as well as six-pack rings from canned drinks, plastic packaging straps, plastic balloon string, kite string, plastic packaging.

An additional threat of plastic pollution to sea turtles, other research has shown, is that turtles eat plastic rubbish and marine creatures caught up in it. In particular, juvenile turtles ride on ocean currents to zones where floating rubbish and debris is concentrated. They also set up home near floating debris and remain there for years.

Sea Turtle in Coral Reef

Brendan Godley, Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Exeter, is the study lead author. He said that mortality from entanglement has increased substantially over the last years. Not just for turtles, but for other marine mammals and birds as well. And as plastic pollution increases, more and more marine animals are likely to become entangled.

Godley said the mortality rate from becoming tangled up in human refuse was, in practice, likely to be far higher than 1,000 turtles a year estimated by the study.

Bottom line: This new study by researchers at the University of Exeter found that plastic pollution in our oceans is killing turtles and marine animals at an alarming rate.

Our mission at Shore Buddies is to protect Marine Life and keep plastics out of the Oceans.