Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles

Duncan, Emily M., Broderick, Annette C., Fuller, Wayne J., Galloway, Tamara S., Godfrey, Matthew H., Hamann, Mark, Limpus, Colin J., Lindeque, Penelope K., Mayes, Andrew G., Omeyer, Lucy C.M., Santillo, David, Snape, Robin T.E., and Godley, Brendan J. (2018) Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles. Global Change Biology. (In Press)

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Abstract

Despite concerns regarding the environmental impacts of microplastics, knowledge of the incidence and levels of synthetic particles in large marine vertebrates is lacking. Here, we utilize an optimized enzymatic digestion methodology, previously developed for zooplankton, to explore whether synthetic particles could be isolated from marine turtle ingesta. We report the presence of synthetic particles in every turtle subjected to investigation (n= 102) which included individuals from all seven species of marine turtle, sampled from three ocean basins (Atlantic [ATL]: n= 30, four species; Mediterranean (MED): n = 56, two species; Pacific (PAC): n= 16, five species). Most particles (n= 811) were fibres (ATL: 77.1% MED: 85.3% PAC: 64.8%)with blue and black being the dominant colours. In lesser quantities were fragments (ATL: 22.9%: MED: 14.7% PAC: 20.2%) and microbeads (4.8%; PAC only; to our knowledge the first isolation of microbeads from marine megavertebrates). Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT‐IR) of a subsample of particles (n= 169) showed a range of synthetic materials such as elastomers (MED: 61.2%; PAC: 3.4%), thermoplastics (ATL: 36.8%: MED: 20.7% PAC: 27.7%) and synthetic regenerated cellulosic fibres (SRCF; ATL: 63.2%: MED: 5.8% PAC: 68.9%). Synthetic particles being isolated from species occupying different trophic levels suggest the possibility of multiple ingestion pathways. These include exposure from polluted seawater and sediments and/or additional trophic transfer from contaminated prey/forage items.

Item ID: 56557
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Copyright Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2018 The Authors. Global Change Biology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Funders: British High Commission in Cyprus, British Residents Society of North Cyprus, Erwin Warth Foundation, Kuzey Kibris Turkcell, Karsiyaka Turtle Watch, MAVA Foundation, Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, Tony and Angela Wadsworth, English School of Kyrenia, United States Agency for International Development, Turkish Cypriot Presidency, University of Exeter, Roger de Freitas, National Environmental Research Council (NERC), Sea Life Trust, European Union (EU), Darwin Initiative for the Survival of the Species (DISS)
Projects and Grants: EU Seventh Framework Program 308370, NERC L003988/1, NERC L007010/1
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 03:08
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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