It pooped plastic: rescued sea turtles return to ocean in Argentina after detox

January 9, 2023 - 6:08 PM
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Personnel of Mundo Marino foundation release to the ocean two green turtles (Chelonia mydas), who were rescued after they became entangled in fishing nets, with one of the pair of endangered creatures excreting plastic ingested from the sea, in San Clemente del Tuyu, Buenos Aires, Argentina January 5, 2023. (Fundacion Mundo Marino/Handout via Reuters)

Marine biologists in Argentina have returned two green turtles to the ocean who were rescued after they became entangled in fishing nets, with one of the pair of endangered creatures excreting plastic ingested from the sea.

The turtles spent a month in animal rehab at the Fundación Mundo Marino where scientists checked their swimming, helped with their diet and gave them a chance to detox from plastics. They were returned to the sea on the beaches of San Clemente.

“The turtles arrived, they were put in pools and their swimming was measured to check it was normal,” said Vanesa Traverso, a biologist at the foundation.

“They are herbivorous so we fed them algae and one of them began to defecateplastic, luckily it wasn’t too much. Some 96% of the turtles that enter the center defecate plastic.”

The green sea turtles, classified as endangered, underwent blood tests and even X-rays to check their digestive tracts and lungs. Some previous ones had come to the center and excreted up to 22 grams of garbage that had been ingested.

“One of them had a high level of white blood cells and some parameters that indicated a slight degree of anemia,” said Bianca Mancini, a veterinarian at the foundation. “We treated it with a mix of antibiotics, a vitamin complex and iron.”

—Reporting by Horacio Soria; Writing by Adam Jourdan; editing by Diane Craft