Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 814–823 | Cite as

Plastic Pollution at a Sea Turtle Conservation Area in NE Brazil: Contrasting Developed and Undeveloped Beaches

  • Juliana Assunção Ivar do Sul
  • Isaac R. Santos
  • Ana Cláudia Friedrich
  • Alexandre Matthiensen
  • Gilberto Fillmann


Sea turtles are highly susceptible to plastic ingestion and entanglement. Beach debris were surveyed along the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in Brazil (Costa dos Coqueiros, Bahia State). No significant differences among developed and undeveloped beaches were observed in terms of total number of items. Local sources (tourism activities) represented 70% of debris on developed beaches, where cigarette butts, straws, paper fragments, soft plastic fragments, and food packaging were the most abundant items. Non-local sources (domestic and fishing activities) accounted for about 70% of debris on undeveloped beaches, where the most abundant items were rigid plastic fragments, ropes, soft plastic fragments, caps, and polystyrene. The projected surface area of beach debris did not vary among developed and undeveloped beaches. Overseas containers accounted for about 25% of regional plastic pollution, implying that international pollution prevention agreements are not being respected off the Brazilian coast.


Marine litter Microplastics Marine debris Garbage Overseas debris Lightsticks 



Field expeditions at Costa dos Coqueiros were sponsored by Mr. Fabiano Barretto from the NGO “Local Beach, Global Garbage” ( G. Fillmann was sponsored by the National Research Council (CNPq PQ 311459/2006-4).


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliana Assunção Ivar do Sul
    • 1
  • Isaac R. Santos
    • 2
  • Ana Cláudia Friedrich
    • 2
  • Alexandre Matthiensen
    • 3
  • Gilberto Fillmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Microcontaminantes Orgânicos e Ecotoxicologia Aquática, Instituto de OceanografiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande—FURGRio GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry, School of Environmental Science and ManagementSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  3. 3.Embrapa RoraimaBoa VistaBrazil

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