World Turtle News, 12/19/2018
Study finds ‘alarming’ levels of chemicals in Great Barrier Reef turtles
Conservationists want major bays and estuaries along the Great Barrier Reef tested for contaminants after a five-year study found “alarming” levels of some chemicals in unhealthy turtles on the reef.
Scientists working on the research have also recommended expanded monitoring of turtle-population health on the Great Barrier Reef “as an indicator of the health of the reef itself”.
The research was launched after a mass stranding of green turtles in 2012, when more than 100 green turtles washed up dead or dying in Upstart Bay, south of Townsville.
In one of the largest turtle research projects to date, scientists screened water, sediment, food, and the blood and shells of turtles for a wide range of elements.
They conducted tests on populations in two coastal locations – Upstart Bay and Cleveland Bay – and compared the results to samples from the Howick group of islands, a “comparatively pristine site” 500km north of Townsville.
WWF Australia has published the final report on the project.
In the coastal locations, turtles were found to have elevated levels of metals such as cobalt, antimony and manganese in their blood and food and showed signs of poorer health….
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Photo from Mike Severns/Tony Stone.