Marine debris ingestion in loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, from the Western Mediterranean

J. Tomas, R. Guitart, R. Mateo, J. A. Raga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

157 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Marine debris represents an important threat for sea turtles, but information on this topic is scarce in some areas, such as the Mediterranean sea. This paper quantifies marine debris ingestion in 54 juvenile loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) illegally captured by fishermen in Spanish Mediterranean waters. Curved carapace length was measured, necropsies were performed and debris abundance and type was recorded. Different types of debris appeared in the gastrointestinal tract of 43 turtles (79.6%), being plastics the most frequent (75.9%). Tar, paper, Styrofoam, wood, reed, feathers, hooks, lines, and net fragments were also present. A regression analysis showed that the volume of debris increased proportionally to the size of the turtles. The high variety of debris found and the large differences in ingestion among turtles indicated low feeding discrimination of this species that makes it specially prone to debris ingestion. Our data suggest that more severe control of litter spills and greater promotion of environmental educational programmes are needed in the Western Mediterranean. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

Keywords

  • Caretta caretta
  • Feeding discrimination
  • Loggerhead sea turtle
  • Marine debris
  • Sublethal effects
  • Western Mediterranean

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