One out of every 20 Olive Ridley sea turtles that come to the shore to lay eggs die due to consuming plastic waste that is dumped into the ocean, say marine biologists in Andhra University.
The Olive Ridley sea turtle is classified as vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and is listed in Appendix I Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Visakhapatnam is a major nesting centre in the east coast for Olive Ridleys and not only the turtles, even dolphins and other marine species and the overall marine ecology is threatened by plastic that is dumped rampantly into the ocean, said P. Yedukondala Rao, Head of the Department of Marine Living Resources, Andhra University.
The sea turtles and other variety of marine species mistake the plastic that floats on the surface of the water or the ones that settle down on the ocean floor as food and consume them. Since plastic is not biodegradable, they block the intestine and leads to death, added Prof. Shamim from the Department of Zoology Andhra University.
Consuming of plastic by the marine species is not the only threat, but there is a wider implication, as scientists say that the food web is affected. Fish, which are said to be a renewable marine resource, feeds on phytoplankton and zooplankton. Layers of floating plastic do not allow the sunray to reach the micro marine organisms such as the phytoplankton and zooplankton and this results in the death of fish or large migration due to lack of food, said Prof. Shamim.
Acquiescing with Prof. Shamim, Director of Centre for Advance Marine Biology, Annamalai University, N. Veerapan said, “Because of large-scale dumping of plastics there is a drop of about 10% in marine species on the east coast alone. Moreover, plastic not only block sun rays from reaching the micro marine organism in the ocean floor but also has carcinogenic properties that are depleting the organism.”
According to Prof. EUB Reddi, plastic account for abut 10% of waste that is generated globally.
He said, “Every year the world used about 5 trillion plastic bags and about 13 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean.”
Source: THE HINDU