Plastic Turtles

leatherback-underwaterMore than a third of all leatherback turtles examined in a recent widespread study contained plastic marine debris in their stomachs and guts. The depressing findings about the world’s largest sea turtles can be found in The Marine Pollution Bulletin, which recently published a paper from the Canadian researchers, N. Mrosovsky, G. Ryan and M. James.

The scientists examined 120 years of autopsy records for more than 400 turtles and, not surprisingly, found that there has been an explosion in plastic in leatherback GI tracts over the last 60 years.

The authors report: “In our sample, bags were the most common plastic item mentioned, but fishing lines, twine, fragments of Mylar balloons, a plastic spoon, and candy and cigarette wrappings were also mentioned.” (Leatherbacks can weigh up to 1,300 pounds and feed almost entirely on jellyfish. )

Clearly, the accusations of plastic bag poster boy Stephen Joseph that the impacts of plastic on sea turtles have been grossly overstated were proven wrong yet again.  I wonder if this is what the Coalition to Save the Plastic Bag had in mind when it successfully sued Manhattan Beach over the city’s failure to complete an EIR as part of a bag ban ordinance.

The bullying tactics of the plastic industry may lead to future EIR completion on the impacts of banning plastic bags. So this paper provides more compelling evidence that bans are long overdue and much needed to clean up our beaches and oceans, and protect marine life.

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