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Sea Turtles experiencing struggles with Plastic

According to Newsy, plastic pollution harms many ocean animals, but it can be especially dangerous for sea turtles. Leaving the water can help them avoid plastic in the oceans, but debris on the beaches can cause even bigger problems.

Ocean plastic threatens all seven species of sea turtle. Turtles that get tangled in fishing nets are at risk of drowning or starvation. When turtles eat plastic, they can suffer internal injuries — and they can get stuck floating near the surface since most plastics are lighter than water. Scientists call it “floater syndrome”: Turtles struggle to dive to feed on seagrass, or to escape predators or avoid boats.

The risks are more subtle on land, but scientists worry they could be even more significant. A recent study of Florida beaches found lots of tiny plastic pieces have washed into the dunes where loggerhead sea turtles make their nests. When this plastic warms up, it retains its heat for a long time. Nests can become noticeably warmer.

For sea turtles, that’s a big deal. Nest temperatures play a large role in determining the sex of newborn turtles — so the warm plastic might eventually cause big changes in local turtle populations, Mcdvoice satisfaction survey.

The good news is anything we can do to cut down ocean plastic — on a large or small scale — helps the sea turtles. There are UN campaigns to stop plastic from entering oceans in the first place, and there are local groups that comb the beaches where turtles nest. Some groups, like the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup, want to comb the ocean itself: It plans to start filtering tons of trash out of the Pacific garbage patch sometime in 2018.

Seas of Plastics drown us

According to Eco Watch, the fossil fuel era must end, or it will spell humanity’s end. The threat isn’t just from pollution and accelerating climate change. Rapid, wasteful exploitation of these valuable resources has also led to a world choked in plastic. Almost all plastics are made from fossil fuels, often by the same companies that produce oil and gas.

Our profligate use of plastics has created swirling masses in ocean gyres. It’s worse than once thought. New research concludes that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 16 times larger than previously estimated, with 79,000 tonnes of plastic churning through 1.6 million square kilometers of the North Pacific. That’s larger than the area of Quebec—and it continues to grow! Researchers say if we don’t clean up our act, the oceans will have more plastics by weight than fish by 2050.

The Ocean Cleanup Foundation commissioned the study, published in Nature, based on a 2015 expedition using 30 vessels and a C-130 Hercules airplane to look at the eastern part of the patch.

According to a CBC article, researchers estimate that the patch holds 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, much of it broken down into microplastics less than half a centimeter in diameter. They also found “plastic bottles, containers, packaging straps, lids, ropes and fishing nets,” some dating from the late 1970s and into the ’80s and ’90s, and the large amount of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima, Japan.

When plastics break down into smaller pieces, they’re more difficult to clean up, and marine animals often ingest the pieces, which is killing them in ever-increasing numbers. Larger pieces can entangle marine animals, and bigger animals often ingest those, too, liquor stores.

The North Pacific patch isn’t unique. Debris accumulates wherever wind and ocean conditions and Earth’s rotation create ocean gyres, including the North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Pacific, South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.