Sea turtles, especially the little ones are very vulnerable to plastic pollution in the ocean, find a new study. There is a one in five chance of the death of a turtle that has eaten only one piece of plastic, and it has been found to increase to about 50 percent when the animal has eaten 14 pieces. If a turtle eats fourteen pieces of plastic in the ocean, they have a 50 percent chance of dying.
Given the amount of plastic in the ocean, researchers involved in the study say that their findings raise serious concerns about the long-term survival of certain turtle species, reports a report from the BBC. There is an endless stream of plastic waste in the oceans and it takes a heavy toll of life in the sea, seemingly innocent acts such as dropping contacts in the toilet will increase plastic pollution in the sea, a recent (unrelated) research .
Documenting the effects of animals trapped in plastic waste and the threats they face is fairly straightforward and has been carried out extensively to find out exactly what is happening, since the effects of consuming plastics are much more radical, stresses the report .
According to the study, about half of all sea turtles in the world consumed a type of plastic. Among the young, young green sea turtles off the coast of Brazil, this number jumps to about 90 percent, the authors say.
To find out how exposure to plastic affected turtles, researchers went through post-mortem reports of these creatures in Queensland, Australia. The team has also done research on registers of animal scenes, reports the report. From the reports, the researchers concluded that if a sea turtle eats more than 200 pieces of plastic, death is an absolute certainty.
With 14 pieces there is a 50 percent chance of death and only one piece of plastic, the probability of death was 22 percent, according to the study. Turtles have a kind of digestive tract that does not allow them to vomit something, Dr. Britta Denise Hardesty of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), told the BBC.
"If it ends up in the wrong place," she says, "even a small thin, film-like piece of plastic can block that channel and nothing can pass (it) and eventually the blockage can lead to death."
Apart from blocking physical processes, it is known that harder pieces of plastic cause internal injuries and these can also lead to death, she said.
Researchers also found that the young people ate much more plastic lumps than adults. In comparison with adults, about 23 percent of juveniles and 54 percent of progeny had eaten plastic compared to 16 percent of adults. This greater vulnerability depends on where these animals live and that their eating habits also play a role.
"We think that small turtles are less selective in what they eat than large adults eating sea grass and shellfish, the young turtles are offshore in the oceanic area and the older animals are eating closer to the coast," explained Hardesty.