Scientists are discovering that sea turtles are highly contaminated with industrial chemicals and pesticides

ByBrett Israel and Environmental Health News

“From the moment they are born, sea turtles fight to survive. Buried alive, they dig themselves out and evade hungry crabs and birds as they crawl to the ocean, where they begin a long and treacherous migration. One out of 1,000 will survive into adulthood. And those that do will bear a toxic burden.

Scientists are discovering that sea turtles, long ignored by toxicologists who study wildlife, are highly contaminated with industrial chemicals and pesticides.

Loggerhead turtles have altered immune systems and smaller eggs that some studies have linked to contaminants. These chemicals kill turtle cells in lab experiments, and based on research in other marine life, scientists suspect that sea turtles may be vulnerable to thyroid, liver and neurological damage.

No one, however, knows the extent to which sea turtles in the wild may be harmed.

While other ocean creatures, including whales, seals and some fish, are well-studied, the chemical threats to sea turtles remain mostly hidden under a shell.

Decimated by climate change, poaching, accidental snaring and ocean trash, all U.S. species of sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, which makes studying them difficult.”


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