In 2012, over 100 green turtles in Upstart Bay, Australia died of unknown causes. Scientists, who are investigating the phenomenon, took blood samples from 1,131 animals in the area. Findings revealed possible chemical exposure.

Researchers from the University of Queensland also studied turtles from Cleveland Bay and the Howick Group of Islands. They believe that a cocktail of chemical substances is slowly poisoning these creatures. The turtles from Upstart Bay showed high levels of compounds associated with chemical exposure. The blood tests also showed traces of molybdenum, antimony and cobalt.

"We have found indications of potentially thousands of chemicals in coastal turtles," said Caroline Gaus, associate professor at the University of Queensland. Gaus explained that her team's next move is to study the health of turtles in urban locations where a cocktail mix of chemicals is also in play.

Gaus worked with the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (ENTOX) to test the turtles' blood samples. ENTOX is a collaboration between the Queensland Department of Health and the University of Queensland.

The study's initial finding can pave the way for scientists to test the theory that the ocean's massive size dilutes impurities for the waters to remain moderately healthy and non-threatening to marine life.

Gaus explained that people should be better informed and constantly reminded that the chemicals used at home can also end up affecting turtles in their natural habitat. Waste from urban and industrial areas must be cut and monitored to protect reef wildlife.

Findings support the five-year reef conservation campaign Rivers to Reef to Turtles, which aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef and its turtles.

Dr. Mark Read, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's manager of operations support, added that the findings are the first step in understanding further how land activities affect inshore areas and marine life.

Banrock Station Wetland manager Dr. Christophe Tourenq added that the initial results proved fascinating. Researchers point to one or two substances that are affecting the health of marine life, but the turtles involved in the study show that there is more to the picture than a single cause. Scientists now know that a potential cocktail of chemicals is at play.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.