Plastic pollution: Autopsy reveals plastic ingested by dead turtles in UAE

A turtle washed up on a beach in the United Arab Emirates about a week ago. The mangrove coast that was once litter-free is now littered with piles of rubbish from surrounding landfills. Dead turtles, plastic bags, packages, bottle caps, are now scattered on the shore.

(Photo: GREG WOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

Plastic waste linked to turtle deaths

The turtle had eaten shrunken balloons and plastic foam in its last days, so it was obvious that it was responsible for its disappearance. According to marine expert Fadi Yaghmour, turtles’ intestines can become clogged with plastic, which can lead to starvation.

For this study, Yaghmour’s group collected 64 turtles from the coasts of Kalba and Khor Fakkan, in the large emirate of Sharjah to be studied.

As the use of disposable plastics has exploded around the world and in the United Arab Emirates, along with other marine litter, his team of researchers has published a new study in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

According to Phys.orgthrowing plastic pollutes rivers and threatens the lives of sea creatures such as sea turtles, as well as other species such as whales, birds and other air and water creatures.

According to the study, a third of dead green turtles and half of dead loggerhead turtles in Sharjah had eaten plastic bags, bottle caps, rope and fishing nets.

This is a shockingly high percentage. No turtles in the Gulf of Oman had ingested plastic, according to the region’s only previous study, published in 1985.

According to Yaghmour, scientists know the world has a huge problem when the vast majority of sea turtles have plastics in their systems. Turtles need our attention more than ever.

Read also : Hundreds of Dead Sea turtles washed up on Mexican coast, experts blame ‘ghost’ fishing nets

Why are green sea turtles the most affected?

The dinosaur disaster may have spared the turtles, but today they are decimated all over the planet. According to the World Conservation Union, hawksbill turtles and green and loggerhead species are both critically endangered.

The warm, shallow waters of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman across the Strait of Hormuz are home to all three species.

Trash is accumulating at an alarming rate around the world, and a landmark study published in Science Advances five years ago predicted that 12 billion metric tons of trash would accumulate by 2050.

Humans have created many risks for sea turtles, including coral reef bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures, coastal overdevelopment and overfishing.

The deceased turtles found in Sharjah contained 325 fragments of broken glass and 32 pieces of fishing net. Blockages, lacerations, and gas can build up in the digestive system from these materials.

Additionally, researchers found that green sea turtles are more likely to eat floating plastic bags and ropes because they mimic the cuttlefish and jellyfish they normally eat, according to ABC News.

Bottle caps and other small pieces of hard plastic were eaten by loggerhead turtles because they were mistaken for delicious marine invertebrates by turtles. Most of the plastics were eaten by young sea turtles, which were less selective.

Efforts to save turtles

Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority staff, along with Yaghmour and his team, are working to save turtles in the United Arab Emirates from threats. Tortoises in distress are frequently rescued by community cops, who take them to a rehabilitation center.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitters and waste producers per capita, making it a tough challenge for environmentalists.

The rapid transformation of an arid desert pearl village into a state-of-the-art corporate metropolis has led to a dramatic increase in plastic consumption and waste in the United Arab Emirates.

Much of the expansion has come from carbon-intensive desalination, which has a high carbon footprint. An environmental study from a decade ago found that Dubai’s huge man-made islands had carved out sediment that had wiped out natural reefs and turtle nesting grounds along the coast.

The United Arab Emirates promised last October to have a net zero carbon dioxide emission by 2050, the first country among the oil-rich emirates to commit to the long term. The goal remains difficult to assess and has been met with skepticism.

Related article: Sea turtles threatened by plastic pollution, researchers say

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Bryce K. Locke