Leatherback turtles: The menace of plastic
The leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea, is a large sea turtle that feeds primarily on jellyfish. Floating plastic garbage could be mistaken for such prey. Autopsy records of 408 leatherback turtles, spanning 123 years (1885–2007), were studied for the presence or absence of plastic in the GI tract. Plastic was reported in 34% of these cases. If only cases from our first report (1968) of plastic were considered, the figure was 37%. Blockage of the gut by plastic was mentioned in some accounts. These findings are discussed in the context of removal of top predators from poorly understood food chains.