Endangered Galapagos tortoises suffer from human waste: study


Endangered giant Galapagos tortoises continue to swallow plastic and other human waste despite a ban on disposable plastic items in the Ecuadoran archipelago, according to a study published Wednesday.

Turtles of the species Chelonoidis porteri ingest plastic in and around urban centers on the island of Santa Cruz, according to the study by the Charles Darwin Foundation, which is dedicated to conservation efforts in the Galapagos.

Researchers analyzed 5,500 samples of fecal matter in areas where tortoises come into contact with human activity, and found 597 pieces of debris of human origin — mostly plastic, but also glass, metal, paper, cardboard and fabric.

By comparison, of the 1,000 samples collected from protected areas in the Galapagos National Park, scientists discovered only two pieces of human debris.

“Giant tortoises can take up to 28 days to digest what they eat,” said Karina Ramon, the main author of the study.


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