Plastic ingestion in oceanic-stage loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) off the North Atlantic subtropical gyre

Christopher K. Pham, Yasmina Rodríguez, Axelle Dauphin, Rita Carriço, João P.G.L. Frias, Frederic Vandeperre, Vanessa Otero, Marco R. Santos, Helen R. Martins, Alan B. Bolten, Karen A. Bjorndal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Juvenile oceanic-stage sea turtles are particularly vulnerable to the increasing quantity of plastic coming into the oceans. In this study, we analysed the gastrointestinal tracts of 24 juvenile oceanic-stage loggerheads (Caretta caretta) collected off the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, in the Azores region, a key feeding ground for juvenile loggerheads. Twenty individuals were found to have ingested marine debris (83%), composed exclusively of plastic items (primarily polyethylene and polypropylene) identified by μ-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. Large microplastics (1–5 mm) represented 25% of the total number of debris and were found in 58% of the individuals sampled. Average number of items was 15.83 ± 6.09 (± SE) per individual, corresponding to a mean dry mass of 1.07 ± 0.41 g. The results of this study demonstrate that plastic pollution acts as another stressor for this critical life stage of loggerhead turtles in the North Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-229
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume121
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Azores
  • Caretta caretta
  • North-Atlantic subtropical gyre
  • Oceanic-stage
  • Plastic
  • Sea turtles

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