Tests on more than 100 sea turtles—spanning three oceans and all seven species—have revealed microplastics in the guts of every single turtle.
Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, working with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, looked for synthetic particles (less than 5mm in length) including microplastics in 102 sea turtles in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean.
Synthetic particles were found in all of the turtles, the most common being fibres, which can potentially come from sources including clothing, tyres, cigarette filters and maritime equipment such as ropes and fishing nets.
“The effect of these particles on turtles is unknown,” said lead author Dr. Emily Duncan, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
“Their small size means they can pass through the gut without causing a blockage, as is frequently reported with larger plastic fragments.
“However, future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly.
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