Just A Few Pieces Of Plastic Can Kill A Turtle, Study Finds

Posted: Sep 15 2018, 9:36am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 15 2018, 9:40am CDT, in Latest Science News


This story may contain affiliate links.

Just a Few Pieces of Plastic can Kill a Turtle, Study Finds
Credit: Jordi Chias/Naturepl.com

Once a sea turtle has 14 pieces of plastic in its stomach, there is a 50 percent chance that it would die.

Hundreds of turtles die every year after swallowing plastic pieces in oceans and on beaches. When turtles ingest plastic, it blocks their intestinal tract, leading to starvation and eventually death. Equally of concern is that the problem of plastic pollution is getting worse.

Recently, a combined team of researchers from CSIRO and USC analyzed carcasses of nearly 1,000 turtles washed up on beaches around Australia and quantified the risk posed by the plastic pollution on turtles. Researchers found that once a turtle has 14 pieces of plastic in its stomach, there is a 50 percent chance that it would die. Even swallowing just one piece of plastic increases the risk of death by 22 percent.

This is the first time that data on plastic pollution and turtle’s death has been studied together in order to understand how it affects their life.

“What we found was that when the turtle eats the first piece of plastic, it has about a 20 percent chance of dying due to that one piece of plastic and as they eat more plastic, the chance that they die goes up," said principal research scientist Dr Chris Wilcox at the CSIRO in Hobart, Australia.

“We knew that turtles were consuming a lot of plastic, but we didn’t know for certain whether that plastic actually caused the turtles’ deaths, or whether the turtles just happened to have plastic in them when they died. In other words, we wanted to know how much plastic was too much plastic for sea turtles.”

Every year, million of tons of plastic pieces end up in the ocean and kill many species. These pieces include everything from rubber bands, pieces of balloon to fishing nets and plastic packaging. Turtles are particularly vulnerable to ingesting plastics because they often swim near the ocean surface.

Evidence also suggests that younger turtles were most affected by the plastic pollution. They are at a higher risk of dying from exposure to plastic than elders. Researchers estimate that half of the young turtles would die if they swallow 17 plastic items. Generally, turtles can live 80 years or more.

“The model we’ve developed can be adapted to help us understand the impact of plastic ingestion not just on individuals but on whole populations of other endangered marine species,” said Dr Wilcox. “The better we understand the issue, the better equipped we are to address the problem and work towards viable, scalable solutions.”

This story may contain affiliate links.


Find rare products online! Get the free Tracker App now.

Download the free Tracker app now to get in-stock alerts on Pomsies, Oculus Go, SNES Classic and more.

Latest News


The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




comments powered by Disqus