Marine plastic pollution impacts on Green sea turtles.
Brazil is such a wonderful country with so much natural beauty.
Whilst working at Gremar Marine Wildlife rescue centre in Guaruja, I helped care for some of the many amazing species that are found throughout Brazil, including Green sea turtles. I have seen first hand the suffering that they go through because of plastic within the oceans.
The purpose of my research is to help develop knowledge about this issue, raise awareness and promote environmental education to help protect the Green Sea turtle populations.
Plastic pollution within the oceans is one of the major destructive forces that numerous marine species are effected by. Plastic pollution affects the marine ecosystem at all levels, from micro – organisms to large mammalian species (Nelms et 2015).
It is estimated that around 700 species of marine wildlife are know to be devastatingly affected by plastic and the impacts on their populations and their survival rate is vast (Laist, 1987; Andrady, 2011). Entanglement and ingestion of litter is one of the main ways in which marine life are affected (Derraik, 2002; Andrady, 2011).
Marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, fish and crustaceans are regularly found entangled in various floating or submerged debris which leads to inability to catch food, drowning, prevention of movement as well serve wounds to their body (Laist, 1987; Andrady, 2011).
Additionally, ingestion of plastic debris will cause blockages to their digestive system as well damage to their stomach linings. This results in an inability to feed or excrete waste and results in a slow and painful death (Nelms et al 2015; Derraik, 2002).
The dramatic decline in populations of sea turtle’s, seabirds and marine mammals are continually being linked with the plastic pollution within the marine environment over the past 2 decades (Islam and Tanaka, 2004).
Waste items that are now found throughout the earths oceans range from plastic bags, fishing lines and nets, bottle caps, clothing tags, child’s toys, clothes as well as a number of micro plastics (Bjorndal, et al 1994; Bornscheuer, 2016)
These waste items alone have endangered many marine species, putting them at risk of extinction and in turn completely altering the marine ecosystem.
Mortality rates of juvenile’s sea turtles are becoming an increasing concern for the population growth and development. It is evident that the increase in mortality rates of Green sea turtle will in turn decrease successful breeding, reproduction and hope for future generations.
Plastic bags, packaging, fishing gear and varying types of hard plastics including bottles caps and child’s toys are some of the most present items found inside the digestive systems of Green sea turtles. This research demonstrates that these items are one of the major factors in the increased mortality rates of Green sea turtles in Southern Brazil.
Around 311 million tons of plastics are produced annually throughout the world and only around 14% recovered for recycling (Bornscheuer, 2016; Plastic Oceans, 2016).
The continued use of plastic items such as bags, packaging, fishing gear and the lack of proper disposal for these waste items, is catastrophically altering the marine ecosystem.