Chemical Characterization of Plastics Ingested by Sea Turtles

Ana Elisabeth Cordeiro Sayegh

Plastic tends to fragment into smaller pieces (<5mm), which is known as microplastics. These particles can be easily ingested and act as vectors for the transfer of chemical pollutants within the food chain. In a study involving the seven species of sea turtles, microplastics were recorded in 100% of the animals analysed (Duncan et al. 2019). Thus, quantifying the extent of microplastic contamination in the marine environment is an emerging field of study.

The study aims to analyse plastic ingestion by sea turtles in the Brazilian coast. To do this, we will do necropsies on dead turtles and the animals' digestive tracts will be opened to access the ingested plastic. Macroplastics (>5mm) will be separated from microplastics and divided into nine categories: industrial plastic; remains of sheet-like; ropes and filaments; foamed plastics; hard plastic; other plastic items; non-plastic items; remains of the turtle natural diet; other natural items.

While microplastics will be taken for chemical analysis. It will be characterized at polimer level and, after that, samples of microplastics will be subjected to extraction and determination of metals adsorbed. With this, it will be possible to discuss how these particles manage to threaten these animals in the long term and discuss better actions to taken.

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