Turtles eat killer pieces of plastic plastic because it often looks like food

Mail Online | 8/9/2019 | Victoria Allen Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail
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Turtles at risk of death from eating plastic in the ocean may swallow it because they believe it is food.

Green turtles are much more likely to consume narrow lengths of plastic which are green, black or clear, a study has found.

Scientists - Turtles - Sea - Grass - Risk

Scientists now believe the turtles mistake these for the sea grass they eat, putting them at particular risk from plastic bin bags, carrier bags and fragments of fishing rope.

It was already known that leatherback turtles eat plastic bags, probably because they confuse them with jellyfish.

Discovery - Turtle - Species - Researchers - Turtles

The discovery of another turtle species whose diet makes them vulnerable to plastic came after researchers examined dead green turtles found washed up on beaches in Cyprus.

Plastic was found in all the turtles whose full gastrointestinal tract could be examined, with one found to contain 183 separate pieces.

Duncan - Author - Study - University - Exeter

Emily Duncan, first author of the study from the University of Exeter, said: 'Previous research has suggested leatherback turtles eat plastic that resembles their jellyfish prey, and we wanted to know whether a similar thing might be happening with green turtles.

'Sea turtles are primarily visual predators, able to choose foods by size and shape, and in this study we found strong evidence that green turtles favour plastic of certain sizes, shapes and colours.

Baseline - Debris - Beaches - Plastic - Turtles

'Compared to a baseline of plastic debris on beaches, the plastic we found in these turtles suggests they favour threads and sheets that are black, clear or green.'

Plastic is now found in oceans in every part of the world, with almost half of whale, dolphin and porpoise species found to have swallowed it.

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