The study, led by Dr Qamar Schuyler from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, found the east coasts of Australia and North America, Southeast Asia, southern Africa, and Hawaii were particularly dangerous for turtles due to a combination of debris loads and high species diversity.
“The results indicate that approximately 52 per cent of turtles world-wide have eaten debris,” Dr Schuyler said.
The study examined threats to six marine turtle species from an estimated four million to 12 million tonnes of plastic which enter the oceans annually.
Plastic ingestion can kill turtles by blocking the gut or piercing the gut wall, and can cause other problems through the release of toxic chemicals into the animals’ tissues.
“Australia and North America are lucky to host a number of turtle species, but we also therefore have a responsibility to look after our endangered wildlife,” Dr Schuyler said.
“One way to do that is to reduce the amount