Ingestion of microplastic debris by green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Great Barrier Reef: validation of a sequential extraction protocol

Caron, Alexandra G.M., Thomas, Colette R., Berry, Kathryn L.E., Motti, Cherie A., Ariel, Ellen, and Brodie, Jon E. (2018) Ingestion of microplastic debris by green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Great Barrier Reef: validation of a sequential extraction protocol. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 127. pp. 743-751.

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Abstract

Ocean contamination by plastics is a global issue. Although ingestion of plastic debris by sea turtles has been widely documented, contamination by microplastics (< 5 mm) is poorly known and likely to be under-reported. We developed a microplastic extraction protocol for examining green turtle (Chelonia mydas) chyme, which is multifarious in nature, by modifying and combining pre-established methods used to separate microplastics from organic matter and sediments. This protocol consists of visual inspection, nitric acid digestion, emulsification of residual fat, density separation, and chemical identification by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. This protocol enables the extraction of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, (aminoethyl) polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride microplastics> 100 μm. Two macroplastics and seven microplastics (two plastic paint chips and five synthetic fabric particles) were isolated from subsamples of two green turtles. Our results highlight the need for more research towards understanding the impact of microplastics on these threatened marine reptiles.

Item ID: 51996
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: marine turtle, plastic ingestion, plastic contamination, extraction technique, chemical digestion, fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy
ISSN: 1879-3363
Funders: TropWATER
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2018 05:09
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960902 Coastal and Estuarine Land Management @ 40%
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