Plastic pollution is building an “evolutionary trap” for the development of turtles

We know that plastic pollution continues to accumulate in the ocean at an alarming rate, and that this poses a risk to the creatures that call it home, but scientists understand the complex interactions that underlie this relationship. I keep jumping into the action. The latest research to shed light on this issue shows how the evolutionary habits of young turtles show them the most polluted parts of the ocean, as evidenced by the discovery of plastic in the stomachs of young turtles around the Australian coast. Draw amazing pictures about what to lure into.

The study was led by scientists at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and the team studied a total of 121 sea turtles from five different species collected from the east coast of Australia facing the Pacific Ocean and the west coast facing the Indian Ocean. These larval sea turtles ranged from freshly hatched sea turtles to those with shells 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter that were washed away on land or in areas involved in bycatch in the fishery.

A study of the intestinal contents of these young turtles shows that many people consume the common plastics polyethylene and polypropylene, and most of the turtles that live frequently in the Pacific are hard debris from the Indian Ocean. It turns out that most of the turtles are fibers. The proportion of plastic-carrying sea turtles is much higher in the Pacific, with 86% of these loggerhead turtles, 83% of these green turtles, and 80% of these flatback sea turtles containing some plastic.

“These polymers are so widely used in plastic products that it is impossible to identify possible causes of the fragments we find,” said research author Dr. Emily Duncan. .. “Newly hatched turtles generally contain fragments up to about 5-10 mm (0.2-0.4 inches) in length, and the particle size increases with the size of the turtle.”

Previous studies have shown that freshly hatched sea turtle-like organisms have evolved to move through ocean currents and spend years in their early development in the open ocean. Here, not many predators are afraid and are free to eat plankton floating near the surface of the water. However, recent studies have also sent the hydrodynamic processes that drive organisms to these areas with plastic, and it is important that turtles are described in the study as some of the most polluted areas of the sea today. It has been shown to spend years of development.

“Larval turtles have evolved to grow in the open ocean, where there are relatively few predators,” says Duncan. “But our results suggest that this evolved behavior leads them to’traps’ and take them to highly polluted areas such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Young sea turtles generally do not have a special diet. They eat anything. This includes plastic. “

Little is known about the effects of ingested plastic on marine life. This is an important area of ​​interest for future researchers. However, recent research has begun to shed light on some potential consequences that may include: Fish aneurysm, Hermit crab cognitive impairment,and Decreased physical strength of mussels.. This is something scientists haven’t explored yet for young turtles, but the fact that they encounter such high concentrations of plastic very early in life is a source of concern.

“It is not yet known how plastic intake affects turtle larvae, but these early losses can have a significant impact on population levels.”

The study was published in the journal Frontier of oceanology..

sauce: University of Exeter Plastic pollution is building an “evolutionary trap” for the development of turtles

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