Preliminary results of macro and micro debris ingested by loggerhead turtles on the Canary Islands

, Ostiategui-Francia Patricia, Liria-Loza Ana.

The European Project INDICIT had proposed sea turtles as marine debris indicator on the European waters. In order to determinate microplastic ingestion by sea turtles, INDICIT project had standardised methodologies for sampling and shared data collected in different regions to conduct global and regional analysis. After the validation of the standard protocols for alive and dead animals, stranded sea turtles in Gran Canaria island from May 2018 to September 2020 has been sampled. On dead turtles, necropsies were carried out and complete digestive track was analysed by sections (oesophagus, stomach and intestine). Digestive content was filtered through train of 2 sieves (5mm and 1mm mesh) to separate macro and micro-debris samples. Micro-debris samples were digested with H2O2 for 24h to eliminate organic material. Live turtles arrived to the recovery centre were placed at individual tanks, feed with eviscerated food to avoid contamination, and water tank sampled for one month. Faeces were filtered with 1mm mesh sieve at each tank discharge all month long just after their arrival to the recovery centre. Faeces samples were treated with “2-seive method”, similarly than digestive content treatment described above on dead animals. Debris were classified according to the INDICIT protocols attending size, type and colour. In global, 16 dead and 46 live turtles have been sampled for macro and microdebris presence. Results showed a 100% of litter occurrence on loggerhead turtles stranded on Gran Canaria Island, both macro and micro-debris. Most abundant colours are white, black and transparent, whereas the most abundant debris type are sheets, threadlike and fragments. For micro-debris, relevant precautions must be taken specially when sampling live turtles.

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