Plastic bags have been found in stomachs of the following marine species. several of which are classified as endangered
*Green turtle (Uchida. 1990; Balazs 1985; Meylan 1978)
*Hawksbill turtle (Teas and Witzell. 1994; Hartog 1980)
The leatherback sea turtle, sometimes called the lute turtle, is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians. It is the only living species in the genus Dermochelys. Wikipedia
Originally uploaded by ~Steph~
It is the most commonly seen turtles in UK waters. and is especially at risk from plastic bag ingestion. as these bags. especially white or clear shopping bags closely resemble jellyfish. their primary prey. when suspended in the water column.
Plastic bags along with sheeting and plastic pieces are the predominant synthetic items found in the stomachs of turtles. An autopsy of a dead leatherback turtle washed up in Scotland in December 1994 reported that it had died as a result of starvation. caused by primary obstruction of the digestive tract by ingested plastic and metal litter. There was also a plastic bag lodged 40cm down the oesophagus (Godley et al. 1998).
A leatherback. washed ashore in Galloway in December 1998. was found in very poor condition with plastic bags obstructing its alimentary tract. The blockage included 1 white plastic bag. 1 black plastic bin liner. 3 transparent plastic bags. 1 green plastic bag. and 1 transparent plastic bag for chicken meat packaged by a US company.
Another leatherback found dead on Harlech beach in Wales in September 1988 had a piece of plastic blocking the entrance to the small intestine. and an autopsy established this could have contributed to the animal’s death (Eckert and Luginbuhl. 1988).
A study of dead stranded sea turtles on the coast of Brazil from 1997 to 1998 found the main items ingested were plastic bags. Of the 30 green turtles examined. white/transparent plastic bags were recorded in 14 (47%) of the green turtles found. Ingestion of anthropogenic debris accounted for the death of 4 (13.2%) of the green turtles examined (Bugoni et al. 2001).
Taken from adopt a beach
For lots of photos of turtles impacted by plastic bags, go to sea turtles and plastic
Heres a film of a baby turtle eating plastic
And here’s a film of a deformed turtle – 6 pack plastic holders are responsible here
Other Ways Plastic Might Affect Turtles
Small pieces of latex and plastic sheeting were offered to sea turtles on different occasions and the turtles’ feeding behavior was noted,……………..blood glucose declined for 9 days following ingestion,indicating a possible interference in energy metabolism or gut function.
Turtle In The News
- Dramatic Illustration of the Dangers of Plastic from The Daily Mail (gcvconservation.wordpress.com)
- The plastic found in a single turtle’s stomach (independent.co.uk)
More reports on other animal deaths can be found here