Plastic ingestion in oceanic-stage loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) off the North Atlantic subtropical gyre

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 9:18pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 06/2017
Authors: Christopher Pham, Yasmina Rodr?guez, Axelle Dauphin, Rita Carri?o, Jo?o Frias, Frederic Vandeperre, Vanessa Otero, Marco Santos, Helen Martins, Alan Bolten, Karen Bjorndal
Journal title: Marine Pollution Bulletin
ISSN: 0025326X

Juvenile oceanic-stage sea turtles are particularly vulnerable to the increasing quantity of plastic coming into the oceans. In this study, we analysed the gastrointestinal tracts of 24 juvenile oceanic-stage loggerheads (Caretta caretta) collected off the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, in the Azores region, a key feeding ground for juvenile loggerheads. Twenty individuals were found to have ingested marine debris (83%), composed exclusively of plastic items (primarily polyethylene and polypropylene) identified by μ-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. Large microplastics (1–5 mm) represented 25% of the total number of debris and were found in 58% of the individuals sampled. Average number of items was 15.83 ± 6.09 (± SE) per individual, corresponding to a mean dry mass of 1.07 ± 0.41 g. The results of this study demonstrate that plastic pollution acts as another stressor for this critical life stage of loggerhead turtles in the North Atlantic.

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