83 The impact of chronic and acute problems on sea turtles: The consequences of the oil spill and ingestion of anthropogenic debris on the tropical semi-arid coast of Ceará, Brazil

Feitosa A.F., Menezes Í.B.H.M.P., Duarte O.S., S.B. Salmito-Vanderley C., Carneiro P.B.M., Azevedo R.N.A., Oliveira A.H.B., Luz A.C.S., Nascimento A.P., Nascimento R.F., Martins L.L., Cavalcante R.M., Feitosa C.V. (2024) Aquatic Toxicology, 269, art. no. 106867 DOI: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2024.106867

ABSTRACT: Sea turtle mortality is often related to materials that reach the coast from different anthropic activities worldwide. This study aimed to investigate whether sea turtle mortality was related to older marine problems, such as solid waste, or one of the largest oil spill accidents on the Brazilian coast, that occurred in 2019. We posed three questions: 1) Are there solid residues in the digestive tract samples, and which typology is the most abundant? 2) Can meso‑ and macro-waste marine pollutants cause mortality? 3) Is the dark material found really oil? A total of 25 gastrointestinal content (GC) samples were obtained, of which 22 ingested waste of anthropogenic origin and 18 were necropsied. These 22 samples were obtained during or after the 2019 oil spill, of which 17 specimens were affected, making it possible to suggest oil ingestion with the cause of death in the animals that could be necropsied. Macroscopic data showed that the most abundant solid waste was plastic (76.05 %), followed by fabrics (12.18 %) and oil-like materials. However, chemical data confirmed only three specimens with oil levels ranging from remnants to high. It was possible to infer possible causes of death in 16 of the total 18 necropsied cases: Most deaths were due to respiratory arrest (62.5 %), followed by pulmonary edema (12.5 %), cachexia syndrome (12.5 %), circulatory shock (6.25 %), and head trauma (6.25 %), which may have been caused by contact with solid waste, oil, or both. The study showed that not all dark material found in the GCs of turtles killed in oiled areas is truly oil, and in this sense, a chemical analysis step to prove the evidence of oil must be added to international protocols. 

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