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Florida Sea Turtles Face A New Threat From Microplastics: Hotter Sand

A new study of Florida beaches has found high amounts of microplastics, which could increase sand temperature and produce more female hatchlings. This Kemps ridley sea turtle makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico from the Texas coast.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

With nesting season opening this week, Florida's sea turtles may face yet another threat from the plastic pollution choking the world's oceans.

According to a new study from Florida State University researchers, tiny, sesame seed-sized microplastics in sand could be heating up beaches and changing the balance of male and female sea turtles. Researchers sampling sand at loggerhead nesting sites along the Gulf Coast found the beads at every location they tested, with the concentration higher in dunes where turtles nest.

Plastic can absorb and retain more heat, leading researchers to worry that the beads could crank up sand temperature, which determines turtle sex as eggs incubate.

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald

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Jenny Staletovich has been a journalist working in Florida for nearly 20 years.