First Ever Map of Floating Plastic Aims to Save Baby Sea Turtles (Slideshow)


Written by Jaymi Heimbuch

A PhD student at The University of Western Australia is working on an ambitious project. Julia Reisser, who has studied sea turtles for the last nine years, wants to create the first map that shows distribution of floating marine plastics in Australian waters. That map will be overlapped with information about pathways of sea turtle hatchlings, and hopefully will shed light on where the most dangerous areas for growing sea turtles may exist.

“The early life of sea turtles occurs at the ocean’s surface, where there’s an increasing amount of floating plastics that are proving fatal to hatchlings,” PhD student Julia Reisser says in an article from University of Western Australia. “My work is identifying the places contributing most to the increase in plastics in Australia’s oceans and how this links to sea turtle life cycles.”

The problem of plastic pollution in our oceans cannot be understated. Many marine species mistake the plastic for food, which can be lethal. A bit of floating plastic could look a lot like the jellyfish Green sea turtles munch on. Mistaking plastics for food has devastating consequences, causing internal damage or starvation.

The idea of creating a map of floating plastic is exciting, but also extremely challenging. One of the biggest issues behind marine plastic pollution is that it is extremely hard to quantify and understand because the ocean is so vast and forever moving, carrying plastics with it. Luckily, though, researchers like Reisser are not giving up, and her research could mean a lot of saving sea turtles. Six of the seven sea turtle species on earth are listed as threatened or endangered, so the more we can do to help hatchlings reach adulthood, the better.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Related Stories:

Turtle Tales — My Day Searching for Turtles in Ontario Wetlands

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Stop The Reptile and Amphibian Extinction Crisis


Look! A slideshow of baby turtles!

First photo: jimmyweee; second photo: jemasmith via flickr

Photo: Luca5/flickr

Photo: waltherfamily/flickr

Photo: Jason and Kris Carter/flickr

Photo: USFWS Headquarters/flickr

Photo: Luca5/flickr

Photo: jimmyweee/flickr



J.I. Castellino
J.I. Castellino4 years ago

As Christina C. asks, Where IS the map!!!

greenplanet e.
greenplanet e4 years ago

We need to stop plastic pollution in the oceans.

Pam W.
Pami W4 years ago

Pete hit it on the nail.Recyclable glass or refillable needs to be reinstated instead of plastic. Plastic is poison

Elizabeth Sowers
Liz Sowers4 years ago

Thank you, Julia Reisser!

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

Yulan Lawson
Yulan Lawson5 years ago

It's we who need to start picking up other people's rubbish and making sure we are responsible for the products we make that give a person a wage to live on. Put your rubbish in the bin, don't throw it out the car or leave it on the beach or st.

Victoria L.
Victoria L5 years ago

If only there was a way to remove the plastic from our oceans...

Jane L.
Jane L5 years ago

nice photos :)

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

As always, our choice on what to use should be made on what is friendlier to our planet.

With that being said....... Reduce, Reuse Recycle!

Christine C.
Chandra C5 years ago

Where's the map?