Sea turtles are mainly visual predators, so they confuse plastic with their food

Sea turtles are mainly visual predators they choose their food by size and shape, and in this recently published study there is strong evidence that green turtles prefer plastic of certain sizes, shapes and colors.

The study could not determine what role plastic played in the death of green turtles (Chelonia mydas), if any.

Certain plastics

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the Society for the Protection of Turtles (Cyprus) examined the guts of turtles found on the beaches of Cyprus to discover which plastics were the ones that mostly turtles confused with their natural foods.

Plastic was found in all turtles whose entire gastrointestinal tract could be examined, and one was found to contain 183 pieces. Of the 34 turtles examined, the scientists were able to examine the entire gastrointestinal tract of 19. All these turtles contained plastic, with a number of pieces that ranged from three to 183.

Green turtles are more likely to swallow plastic that resembles their natural seaweed diet. So that, turtles are attracted to the narrow lengths of plastic in natural colors such as green and black.

The study found that smaller turtles tend to contain more plastic, possibly because they have less experience or because diet choices change with age and size.

Video: Lecture 23 : Plastic Pollution Impacts on Marine and Wildlife (November 2019).