• Outdoors Outdoors

Researchers make concerning discovery after analyzing sea turtle feces: 'It will continue under observation'

"For now, the animal is showing a good attitude and will be closely watched."

"For now, the animal is showing a good attitude and will be closely watched."

Photo Credit: iStock

In Argentina, a young sea turtle was recently rescued from a fishing net, but its troubles didn't end there. UpNorthLive reported the juvenile turtle was then taken to a rehabilitation center, where it defecated 10 different types of plastics, according to the Mundo Marino Foundation.

What's happening?

Though the turtle was not displaying any visible signs of distress when it was taken to the center, it proceeded to egest what UpNorthLive described as "an alarming amount of man-made waste," including lids, nets, sachets, seals, cellophane, and other unidentified bits of plastic.

Further examination revealed that the turtle still had foreign objects inside its digestive system. It was also dehydrated and had a high white blood cell count.

"It will continue under observation because given the sharpness of the objects it expelled, we cannot rule out that they may have generated internal injuries," veterinarian Mauro Pergazere said. "For now, the animal is showing a good attitude and will be closely watched. We hope in the next few weeks that it will be able to be discharged and returned to the sea."

Why is this concerning for all sea turtles?

The double whammy of getting caught in a net and eating massive amounts of plastic represents two of the biggest threats that sea turtles currently face. Other threats include hunting, poaching, egg harvesting, boat strikes, pollution, and habitat destruction.

An estimated 4,600 sea turtles are killed every year by abandoned fishing nets and hooks in United States waters, according to the Smithsonian. And the number of abandoned, lost, or discarded nets, or "ghost nets," in the oceans has been increasing.

Studies have shown that sea turtles are ingesting plastic at an astounding rate, blocking their digestive systems and causing internal abrasions and all manner of health issues.

All of this plastic isn't great for human health, either. Most plastics are made from dirty fuels like motor oil and gasoline, and the material leaches harmful chemicals into soil and waters.  

What's being done about ocean plastics?

Eight to 10 million metric tons of plastic (around nine to 11 million tons) enter our oceans each year, according to UNESCO. There are an estimated 50-75 trillion individual pieces of plastic and microplastics in the ocean — a great many of which might appear as a tasty snack to an innocent sea turtle.

In order to address the problem, we must halt (or at least slow down) the flow of new plastic into our oceans. Curbing our reliance on single-use plastics can help. Some steps that you can take to reduce your single-use plastic consumption include repurposing empty containers, getting a reusable water bottle, and supporting brands with plastic-free packaging.

Meanwhile, multiple organizations and innovators are taking action to clean up our polluted waters. One business upcycled a ghost net into a plastic-trapping solution, while nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup is making headway in removing debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider