Researchers at an aquarium in southern Japan say about 20 percent of sea turtles found dead off the coast of Okinawa Prefecture had accidentally consumed ropes, plastic and other trash.
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium studied 484 dead sea turtles that drifted to the coast of the prefecture's main island between 1990 and 2019.
The survey covered green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles.
About 90 were found to have trash in their bodies. One turtle had two liters of garbage stuck in its stomach.
Aquarium officials say green turtles tend to swallow ropes and fishing lines, whereas loggerheads and hawksbills eat plastic debris.
The study is the first ever conducted on such a large scale. A paper on the findings has been published in an international academic journal.
Aquarium official Sasai Takahide notes that sea turtles mistakenly eat garbage generated by humans. He says he hopes people will be careful in their daily lives not to produce waste that could become marine debris.