Sea Turtles and other aquatic creatures are at risk because of the massive amount of plastic waste that winds up in the ocean, according to researchers.
A new study that was published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, found that the seven species of sea turtle – from hawksbill to olive ridley – are in danger due to plastic objects such as bottles and bags, which can be found floating about in the ocean.
Researchers said that they found cases of turtles from all the seven species that were either entangled in litter, or that had consumed plastic debris.
“[Eating plastic trash] can result in poor health, reduced growth rates and reproductive output, or death,” the researchers stated.
Sea turtles can become trapped in discarded plastic, both on land and in the water. The plastic debris also poses a threat to baby seas turtles, which have to tumble across the beaches before reaching the sea.
According to the researchers, the plastic debris is a serious problem since it affects not only large vertebrates, but also extremely tiny creatures (microscopic zooplankton). The debris is especially affecting the already endangered species such as sea turtles.
The IUCN Red List classified the hawksbill sea turtles as critically endangered, because the hawksbill population has dropped by 80 percent in the past ten years.
What is more concerning is that not only the sea creatures are affected by the plastic waste. Researchers at the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Oceans and Atmosphere, found that from only 5 percent cases in 1960, the cases of birds that have consumed some type of plastic debris have reached an estimate of 90 percent over the past 30 years.
Plastic microbeads have also gained notoriety in recent years. These are usually found in personal care products, including tooth paste, body wash, face wash, and so on. When people use these products, the microbeads are washed down the drain, ending up in water streams and other bodies of water. Oftentimes sea birds and fish tend to mistake them for food, thus leading seven U.S. states to ban the products that contain plastic microbeads.
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