08 November 2010

Sea turtles and plastic in the Adriatic Sea

A recent study conducted in the Adriatic waters focused on loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta and plastic debris.

Researchers from the University of Zagreb found that marine debris was ingested by 35% of loggerheads foraging in neritic habitats of the Adriatic Sea. Debris include plastic bags, wrapping foils, ropes, polystyrene foam and fishing line; but soft plastic was the most frequent found in digestive tract.

The high occurrence of debris intake represents a factor of concern for loggerheads in the Adriatic Sea. The researchers hope that, having shown that the turtles are particularly vulnerable to plastic debris, more will be done to reduce such debris.


Lazar B., Gračan R. 2010. Ingestion of marine debris by loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, in the Adriatic Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.09.013

Abstract - We examined the occurrence of marine debris in the gastrointestinal tract of 54 loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) found stranded or incidentally captured dead by fisheries in the Adriatic Sea, with a curved carapace length of 25.0–79.2 cm. Marine debris was present in 35.2% of turtles and included soft plastic, ropes, Styrofoam and monofilament lines found in 68.4%, 42.1%, 15.8% and 5.3% of loggerheads that have ingested debris, respectively. The dry mass of debris per turtle was low, ranging from <0.01 to 0.71 g, and the ingestion was not significantly affected by sex or body size (all p > 0.05). Marine debris averaged 2.2 ± 8.0% of dry mass of gut content, with a maximum of 35% found in a juvenile turtle that most likely died due to debris ingestion. Considering the relatively high occurrence of debris intake and possible sub-lethal effects of even small quantities of marine debris, this can be an additional factor of concern for loggerheads in the Adriatic Sea.

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