Simply, the oceans are full of trash. After years of neglect and dumping into waterways that lead to the oceans, we have created an environment that is causing mass devastation to marine animals on very ocean across the planet.
Recently, a sea turtle rescued and given to conservation experts at Mundo Marino Foundation in Argentina, has been found with a stomach full of plastic. This resulted in the turtle pooping out over 13 grams of nylon bags, netting, and other plastic trash.
The green sea turtle was found after being caught in a fishing net off the coast of Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 29th, 2019, and was discovered to be in bad condition.
“Through radiographic images, we could see foreign bodies inside. Therefore, we started a treatment with a medication that increases peristaltic movements (movements of the digestive tract) and allows it to excrete what we saw in the images,” Ignacio Peña, a veterinarian at the Foundation, said in a statement. “Today the turtle is eating green leaves, mainly lettuce and seaweed. We’re viewing this with an optimistic attitude, the progress is favorable.”
According to Mundo Marino Foundation, this is not the first turtle they have come across this year who has ingested plastic and trash. Two other green sea turtles have been found with plastic in their digestive tracts. One was found dead, while the other was taken in where it pooped out part of a plastic bag.
Green sea turtles are herbivores but juveniles will eat a carnivorous diet that includes jellyfish. With a young hunter, the look of a plastic bag will be very similar to a jellyfish, leaving the life of the turtle in danger has it can block its digestive tract.
“There is not only a risk of a mechanical obstruction due to plastic intake. The accumulation of non-nutritive elements in the digestive systems of these marine reptiles can cause them a false sense of being full, which gradually weakens them,” added Karina Álvarez, biologist and Conservation Manager at the Mundo Marino Foundation.
“In addition, a large amount of gas could be generated in their organisms, product of the accumulated plastic. Which would affect their ability to dive and dive, both to feed and to find more suitable temperatures.”
The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and found manly in tropical and subtropical waters. Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear, pollution and loss of nesting beach sites.