At the beginning of November, a sea turtle stranding (Caretta caretta) on Psili Ammos beach allowed the start of a new study: micro-plastic research in stomach and intestinal contents. The sea turtle was necropsied and the gastrointestinal tract was removed and frozen for later lab work. Over the next few weeks, a number of papers were carefully read and an in depth protocol was developed outlining the appropriate methodology for dissection and analysis.
December brought about the beginning of the practical stage of this research. Members of the micro-plastics team and the marine conservation team meticulously cleaned and prepped the lab, in order to avoid all types of plastic contamination and then the dissection began. Over the course of three hours the entire gastrointestinal tract was measured, weighed and inspected, while numerous samples were collected.
Since then, the samples have been processed in the lab every day, going through sieves and filters to search for both macro- and micro-plastics. The remains of several crabs and urchins have been discovered, but other samples are yet to be analysed to check for plastics. In the meantime a literature review has been written, and a new micro-plastics team has been trained in the lab to continue the work. Over the next few months, the samples will be analysed and processed here in Samos, before being sent to Hampshire College, Massachusetts, USA for chemical analysis. This work persists with the aim of publishing a case study on the micro-plastic content in Caretta caretta and will pave the way for further research in similar areas of research at Archipelago