Teryda N1,2, Rodriguez D3, Vélez-Rubio GM1,4.

1 KARUMBE, Biodiversidad y Conservación. Av. Rivera 3245, Montevideo CP 11400, Uruguay
2 Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Prov. de Buenos Aires. correo: 1260 correo central 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina. natyteryda@gmail.com
3 Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. Conicet. correo: 1260 correo central 7600 Mar del Plata. dhrodri@gmail.com B.S.c (HONS.)Adviser
4 Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, University of Valencia, Aptdo. 22085, E-46071 Valencia, Spain

•Anthropogenic debris accumulation in marine environments has become
a serious problem in the last decades (Derraik, 2002).
•Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) interact with marine debris in all their life
stages and in different geographic areas (Schuyler et al., 2013).
•In the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean the ingestion of marine debris is one
of the main threats for immature green turtles when reach to neritic
habitats after their oceanic life stage (Gonzalez - Carman et al., 2013).

The aim of this work is to update
previous studies about the
interaction of immature green
turtle with marine debris in
Uruguayan coastal waters.

•The first study, analyzed stranded green turtles along the Uruguayan coast trough 2005 to 2007, the mean ± SD
curved carapace length (CCL) = 39.7 ± 6.0 cm (range 32.3 - 61.5 cm). 73.0% presented marine debris in their gut
contents (Table 1,[1]).
•The second study, analyzed stranded green turtles along the Uruguayan coast trough 2009 to 2013, the mean ±
SD CCL = 40.0 ± 7.0 cm (range 29.8–62.0). 72.2% presented marine debris in their gut contents (Table 1,[3]).
•The last study, was performed during 2010 just in the Marine Protected Area Cerro Verde and adjacent areas, the
turtles presented mean ± SD CCL = 39.4 ±7.8 cm (range 29.8 – 58.5 cm). 82.6% of the turtles ingested marine
debris (Table 1,[2]).
•In the three studies, the presence of marine debris decrease according with the turtle growth rate, with a
remarkable peak in study [3] from 80% in turtles shorter than 35 cm CCL to 58.8% in larger than 40 cm CCL.

•During 2005 to 2013 three studies of marine debris interaction were
conducted (see table 1) with the same methodology, in Uruguay.
•Digestive contents samples were collected from dead green turtles stranded
along the Uruguayan coast. Curve Carapace Length (CCL) was measured to
each turtle using a flexible tape.
•The digestive track content was collected and was separated into esophagus,
stomach and intestine sections (Fig. 2).
•Diet items were separated and identified to the lowest possible taxonomic
level. Dietary item was quantified by frequency of occurrence (FO) and relative
volume (RV).


Table 1: Review of studies conducted by Karumbé along the Uruguayan coast between 2001 – 2013. Red square marks the studies analyzed in the present study. *Dead
turtles due to marine debris ingestion.

Study Type


Study Area

% Solid

All the coast

Calvo et al. 2003 (2001)



All the coast

Asaroff et a.l 2009 (2005-2007) [1]



Murman et al. 2011 (2011) [2]



Vélez-Rubio et al. In prep (2009-2013) [3]





MPA - Cerro Verde
All the coast


Reference (study years)

Nº Turtles

MPA - Cabo Polonio Rios & Feijoo 2008 (2005-2006)
MPA - Cerro Verde


All the coast

Alive Turtles

MPA - Cerro Verde

Alonso & Vélez-Rubio 2011 (2008-2011)



Vélez-Rubio et al. 2013 (1999-2010)



De Franco & Martinez Souza (2011) (2010)



Fig 1: Map of the Uruguayan coast. Three zones can be distinguished in coastal waters based on the differences in hydrological
characteristics: [IEZ] inner estuarine zone (350 km), [OEZ] outer estuarine zone (130 km) and [OZ] Oceanic zone (230 km). The letters
indicate the most important protected areas for juvenile green turtles in Uruguayan coastal waters: A, Marine Protected Area of Cerro
Verde; B, Marine protected area of Cabo Polonio. The red circles indicate the green turtles stranding locations of Vélez-Rubio et al. in
prep. (2009-2013, N=54).

Fig 2. A) Green turtle intentionally capture in the
MPA-Cerro Verde by karumbé technicians in 2014.
B) Stomach contents of a stranded green turtles in
Uruguay in 2013.


In the last 10 years the presence of marine debris in green turtles has increased in great numbers in Uruguayan coastal waters. This update
represents the first step for a comprehensive review of the impact of marine debris for the green turtle stock located in this area of the South
Western Atlantic, and for the developing of future actions to mitigate this threat.
•Derraik, J.G.B., 2002. The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: a review. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 44, 842–852.
Framiñan, M.B., Brown, O.B., 1996. Study of the Río de la Plata turbidity front. Part I. Spatial and temporal distribution. Cont.
Shelf Res. 16 (10), 1259–1282.
•Schuyler, Q., Hardesty, B.D., Wilcox, C., Townsend, K., 2013. Global analysis of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles.
Conserv. Biol.. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1111/cobi.12126.
•Gonzalez - Carman, V., et al., 2014. Young green turtles, Chelonia mydas, exposed to plastic in a frontal area of the SW Atlantic.
Mar. Pollut. Bull. 78 56–62.


Authors are really grateful to all Karumbé members and volunteers who once formed part of the NGO. Also to all the persons (fishermen, Naval
Prefecture, life guard service, rangers, civil organizations and citizens). Also thanks for the support of all the ISTS 2015 sponsors.