​Research Finds That Our Trash Is Killing More Turtles Than Oil Pollution

Everyone who watched the final episode of Planet Earth II the other night must have felt slightly ashamed of themselves.

We saw dead albatross chicks, rubbish on uninhabited islands, and huge coral reefs dying because of the acidity of the rapidly rising seas.

And it's all because of us. We are the ones pumping plastic and other toxic stuff into the oceans. We are the ones burning the fuel that raises temperatures and creates the carbon dioxide that causes the ocean to become acidic.

turtle swimming
turtle swimming

Credit: PA

Now, some British scientists have discovered that plastic kills more than 1,000 turtles every year. The research also states that nine out of 10 turtles that find themselves entangled in plastic end up dead - which is a pretty sobering thought.

Those that didn't die usually went on to drag bits of crap like fishing nets, six-pack rings, and balloons behind them.

Also, the 1,000 figure is thought to be an underestimation as not all of the turtles that die are found or washed up, this is particularly true for baby turtles.

These figures are scary, and they are only getting worse as we throw out more and more plastic. Turtles are not the only creatures that are affected either; sea birds and marine mammals, such as dolphins, are also at great risk.

The paper - published in Endangered Species Research - states that entanglement is a bigger problem to marine turtles than oil spills and climate change.

Turtle
Turtle

Credit: PA

Most of the times they are caught up are in fishing nets, but the problem - as it so often does - comes back to plastic.

Since it became much cheaper and readily available more pieces of fishing equipment are being made from plastic. This means that if it is discarded or breaks off it will float around in the oceans until it degrades - this takes a long time.

However, even this is not as dangerous to them as the amount of plastic that is being found inside them.

The lead author of the research, Professor Brendan Godley, said: "Plastic rubbish in the oceans, including lost or discarded fishing gear which is not biodegradable, is a major threat to marine turtles.

"We found, based on beach strandings, that more than 1,000 turtles are dying a year after becoming tangled up but this is almost certainly a gross underestimate.

"Experts we surveyed found that entanglement in plastic and other pollution could pose a long-term impact on the survival of some turtle populations and is a greater threat to them than oil spills."

The prof concluded: "We need to cut the level of plastic waste and pursue biodegradable alternatives if we are to tackle this grave threat to turtles' welfare."

This all makes for grim reading but only we have the power to change it.

LADbible has claimed the world's first country made entirely of trash to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Get involved and ensure the world's first country made of trash is its last.

Find out more here
Become a citizen of the Trash Isles here

Donate to our charity partner, Plastic Oceans Foundation here

Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist at LADbible. Claire graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA in journalism. She’s previously worked at Trinity Mirror. Since joining LADbible, Claire has worked on pieces for the UOKM8? mental health campaign, the Yemen crisis, life in the Calais Jungle as well as a profile of a man who is turning himself into a cyborg.

Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock close comment cursor email facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window phone play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp logoInline safari-pinned-tab Created by potrace 1.11, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2013