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Researchers find plastic particles in every sea turtle tested for study

Sea Turtles
Sea turtles going into the ocean. Photo: Edgar Santiago García/picture alliance via Getty Images

Research published in the journal Global Change Biology revealed that more than 800 synthetic particles, including "microplastics," were found in the digestive systems of 102 sea turtles examined from 3 ocean basins.

Why it matters: The fact that microplastics were found in all of the turtles tested by researchers — in oceans all across the world — highlights the impact of marine plastic waste and its potential effects on animals. The study estimated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic waste could enter the world's waters each year.

  • The sea turtles were pulled from seven species from across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They performed necropsies on the turtles, examining their "gut content."
  • The samples extracted only provide a look at a portion of the turtles' gut content, indicating that the actual synthetic particle content throughout a turtle's whole gut is likely to be 20 times higher.

What's next: It's unclear how microplastics might actually affect the turtles' digestive systems, since they seem to be able to deal with them without adverse effects, per CNN.

  • Researchers are worried that the synthetic particles could expose marine life to toxins at the cellular level, perhaps exposing them to bacteria or diseases.

Go deeper: Plastic straws play only minor role in global plastics pollution

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