In Florida, baby sea turtles are consuming a hazardous amount of plastic that may be hurting their already dwindling population.
Plastic has been found in almost every environment globally, including the stomachs of animals such as ocean life.
The University of Florida did a study on 42 endangered loggerhead sea turtles hatchlings. Of the turtles examined, 39 of them have ingested large quantities of plastic. All of the turtles in the study were found washed up on beaches in Northeast Florida.
Of the plastic removed from the turtle’s stomach, the majority of the pieces were white.
One of the hatchlings in the study weighed 1.6 ounces, roughly 16 pennies. This hatchling ingested 287 pieces of plastic. The smallest baby loggerhead in the study was 1.8 inches long. This little turtle had managed to swallow a fragment of plastic one-fourth the length of its shell.
Why is it Dangerous?
When consuming plastics, the chemicals used in creating the plastic can soak into the bloodstream and poison the host. The plastic pieces can also block a turtle’s stomach or intestines. At the least, it will take up space in the turtle’s stomach that is necessary to turn food into energy.
Most of the plastic in the ocean is the product of landfills and manufacturing plants. Around 11 million tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans every year. Researchers predict that number to more than double by the year 2040.
What Can We Do?
Unfortunately, more than just one person’s help is required to fix the problem. It has to be on a global scale.
With the reduction of plastic in our daily lives, every environment would start to benefit due to its interconnectivity. Simple tasks like recycling, eliminating single-use plastics, and cleaning up areas such as ocean environments could help.
[H/T The Conversation]