Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020.


Copyright 2020 Stacey Safarik


This paper will address the impacts of plastic pollution on sea turtles and how humans can combat the issue. Sea turtles are often harmed due to human activities because the ocean is used as a dumping ground for trash, and humans need to take it upon themselves to change this. The purpose of this project was to learn how plastic can impact the lives of sea turtles, and to find out if there are prevention efforts in place. A thematic literature review was conducted in order to find all of the data. Once all of the data was compiled, it was analyzed, and themes were found. The research showed that there is a large abundance of plastic that exists in many areas of the ocean, making it likely that it harms sea turtles. The two main, consistent themes were ingestion of plastic and entanglement. The data showed that sea turtles often ate plastic, mistaking it for food. It was also discovered that sea turtles were found injured or dead due to entanglement. Both of these can be extremely harmful to the sea turtles, with ingestion leading to gastrointestinal issues, gut perforations, and death. Entanglement can cause loss of limbs, impairment of movement to catch food, and drowning. Thankfully, there are efforts being put forth to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean and hopefully reduced the impacts on sea turtles as well. There are projects, strategies, act, and policies in place to manage marine litter and pollution.