Researchers from the University of Queensland and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)'s Wealth from Oceans Flagship analyzed global research data from the past 25 years and found green and leatherback turtles are eating more plastic than ever before.
"Our research revealed that young ocean-going turtles were more likely to eat plastic than their older, coastal-dwelling relatives," Schuyler, study leader Qamar Schuyler from the School of Biological Sciences, said.
The study found that stranded turtles in areas with high concentrations of marine debris did not experience a correspondingly high probability of debris ingestion.
"Amazingly, turtles found adjacent to the heavily populated New York city area showed little or no evidence of debris ingestion, while all of the turtles found near an undeveloped area of southern Brazil had eaten debris," Schuyler said.
This study shows that conducting coastal cleanups is not the single answer to the problem of debris ingestion for local sea turtle populations, although it is an important step in preventing marine debris input into the ocean.
Results from this global analysis indicate oceanic leatherback turtles and green turtles are at the greatest risk of being killed or harmed from ingested marine debris.
"To reduce this risk, man-made debris must be managed at a global level, from the manufactures through to the consumers – before debris reaches the ocean," Schuyle said.


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