Microplastics found in the stomachs of turtles’ washed up or killed on the shores of northern Cyprus

Microplastics, including bottle caps and a Halloween toy, were found in the stomachs of 135 loggerhead turtles washed up or killed on the shores of northern Cyprus, research showed on Tuesday.

Led by Dr Emily Duncan from the university of Exeter, a group of scientists analysed the guts of dead sea turtles in the Mediterranean.

Over 40 per cent of the turtles contained large pieces of plastic, known as microplastics.

“The journey of that Halloween toy (a witch’s finger) – from a child’s costume to the inside of a sea turtle – is a stark reminder of the life cycle of plastic,” Duncan said.

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In total, the study found 492 microplastic pieces, including 67 in just one turtle.

“The plastics we found were largely sheetlike (62 per cent), clear (41 per cent) or white (25 per cent) and the most common polymers identified were polypropylene (37 per cent) and polyethylene (35 per cent),” she added.

“It’s likely that turtles ingest the plastics that mostly closely resemble their foods.”

Another researcher, Professor Brendan Godley called for more extensive research to understand the plight not just of loggerheads but of all marine life facing the onslaught of plastic pollution.

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