ATHENS – More than 70 pct of the sea turtles that died at the “Archelon” sea turtle protection centre in Glyfada had swallowed pieces of plastic, based on an analysis of their stomach contents conducted by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research. The research team counted more than 250 pieces of plastic in 36 individuals, most of them young, making an average of 11 pieces of plastic per turtle.
The head of the specific programme, Dr. Eleni Kaberi, said the percentage of turtles with plastic in their stomach in Greece was roughly at the same level as in the west and central Mediterranean and significantly higher than other countries in the east and south Mediterranean, such as Turkey and Tunisia, though much higher levels than in Greece have been published for Cyprus.
“Refuse from human activities exists in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote spots in the oceans. Of all types of sea refuse, plastics are the most problematic and highest in quantity. Plastics can enter the food chain when they are accidentally consumed by marine organisms and the problem is that they can release dangerous chemical substances there. Even though swallowing micro-plastics by marine organisms is more common in the big oceans, plastics have been found in the digestive tracts of several organisms in the Mediterranean Sea,” she said.
The HCMR is certain to continue this research until the end of 2020, with samples collected with the help of MEDASSET, a professor at the Thessaloniki University veterinary school and Archelon, as well as vets throughout Greece.