A new study suggests that ingesting even a single piece of plastic can be deadly for sea turtles. Researchers found there was a one in five chance of death for a turtle who consumed just one item - rising to 50% for 14 pieces. The team found that younger turtles are at a higher risk of dying from exposure to plastic than adults.
The authors say their research raises concerns over the long term survival of some turtle species. The never ending surge of plastic into the world's oceans is taking an increasing toll on iconic marine species. While it has been relatively straightforward for researchers to document the threat to animals who become entangled in plastic and drown, determining the impact of consumed plastic is much harder.
The authors of this study estimate that around half of all the sea turtles on the planet have ingested plastic - this rises to 90% among juvenile green sea turtles off the coast of Brazil.
A quantitative analysis linking sea turtle mortality and plastic debris ingestion [nature.com] (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-30038-z) (DX [doi.org])