1 Tahrcountry Musings: Plastic Trash in the Oceans and the Plight of the Turtles

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Plastic Trash in the Oceans and the Plight of the Turtles

Plastics ingestion by leatherback turtles is taking a heavy toll of the critically endangered species. This is the result arrived at by Dr. Mike James and colleagues from Dalhousie University after detailed analysis of post-mortems report of leatherbacks for the past four decades. Over one third of the turtles had ingested plastic. Ingestion of plastic leads to partial or complete obstruction of gastrointestinal tract, which in turn leads to starvation and death.

Leatherbacks often confuse plastic trash with one of their favorite prey, jellyfish. Unfortunately both jellyfish and plastic trash are often found in areas where oceanic water masses meet.

The only way out of this tragic situation is use of biodegradable materials and recycling. Leatherbacks have inhabited the earth for over a hundred million years and it would be a shame if they disappear due to the folly and profligacy of man. As the old saying goes little drops of water makes the mighty ocean. Each one of us has a bounden duty to do whatever is possible to save this critically endangered turtle. Concerted action will certainly pay rich dividends in the long run.

Details of the study appear in Marine Pollution Bullentin.

Mrosovsky et al. Leatherback turtles: The menace of plastic. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2009; 58 (2): 287 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.10.018

No comments: