There Is No Sea Turtle That Is Free of the Epidemic of Microplastics

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A study finds that 100% of these creatures ingest them without knowing it, which can have lethal consequences.

Synthetic particles that come from wearing clothing, tires, cigarette filters or fishing nets disintegrated found inside all sea turtles, as follows an article published this December in the journal Global Change Biology.

Far from staying with sea turtles ingest plastic because they confuse it with jellyfish, their main source of food, this time, the authors of the work, experts in marine ecology at the British universities of Exeter and Plymouth , have analyzed the content of microplastics – particles less than 5mm in diameter – from the intestine of a total of 102 testudines from the Atlantic , Pacific and Mediterranean oceans .

The results of the study show that 100% of the specimens had ingested some type of synthetic particle in life. In fact, the researchers came to account for a total of 800 fragments evaluating only part of the intestine of animals, so they predict that the total amount of synthetic particles contained in the intestines of the turtles could be twenty times higher.

Unlike the larger plastic fragments, these microparticles can be ingested and digested by the turtles without blocking the intestine, which eventually accumulate inside your body without you noticing. They ingest them through seawater and sediments – polluted due to their ability to adsorb synthetic particles – and the effect that this can cause is still unknown.

For the elaboration of the work, the experts carried out the necropsies of a hundred turtles, all of them deceased as a consequence of the accidental capture. The specimens came from North Carolina (United States), Cyprus and Queensland (Australia); and the density of particles found in each varied according to the degree of contamination of each of the three ocean basins from which the turtles originated.

Specifically, those whose intestine contained more synthetic fragments, are those of the Mediterranean, something logical considering that it is a practically closed basin – neither the Atlantic nor the Pacific are – and with large fluvial contributions. These two circumstances favor the increase in the concentration of pollutants in water, which come from marine traffic, from industry, through fishing or tourism, among many others.

“Over the years we have found microplastics in organisms of all levels of the trophic network, from the zooplacton of the base to the larvae of fish, in dolphins and now in turtles,” laments Penelope Lindeque, of the Laboratory Marine of Plymouth, who adds that this circumstance accounts for the state of health of our oceans and proves that it is essential to reduce the consumption of plastic.

Microplastics are the result of the degradation of larger fragments of, for example, bottles or plastic bags, which are disintegrated by the action of marine currents and solar radiation. A small fraction of the plastic floats on the surface of the ocean, although most of it is transported to the seabed and deposited there, where unknowingly ingested by thousands of benthic organisms that feed by filtering water and sediment.

In addition to causing intestinal blockages, the ingestion of plastic can play a key role in determining the sex of some organisms and even cause damage to the nervous system of some species that, if they have ingested plastic, take longer to detect the presence of predators and other threats, as demonstrated by some of the most recent investigations.

 

Source: La Vanguardia

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