Marine debris ingestion by sea turtles (Testudines) on the Brazilian coast: an underestimated threat?

Mar Pollut Bull. 2015 Dec 30;101(2):746-9. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.10.002. Epub 2015 Oct 9.


Assessment of marine debris ingestion by sea turtles is important, especially to ensure their survival. From January to December 2011, 23 specimens of five species of sea turtles were found dead or dying after being rehabilitated, along the coast of the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To detect the presence of marine debris in the digestive tract of these turtles, we conducted a postmortem examination from the esophagus until the distal portion of the large intestine for each specimen. Of the total number of turtles, 39% had ingested marine debris such as soft plastic, hard plastic, metal, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle caps, human hair, tampons, and latex condoms. Five of the seven sea turtles species are found along the Brazilian coast, where they feed and breed. A large number of animals are exposed to various kinds of threats, including debris ingestion.

Keywords: Caretta caretta; Chelonia mydas; Plastic; Pollution; Rio de Janeiro; Waste.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autopsy
  • Brazil
  • Eating
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Gastrointestinal Contents / chemistry
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / chemistry
  • Hair
  • Humans
  • Metals / analysis
  • Plastics / analysis
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates / analysis
  • Turtles*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Metals
  • Plastics
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates
  • Water Pollutants