The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

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pdf 01. A struvite faecolith in the leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea Vandelli A means of packaging garbage

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Open Access

pp.81-83

Authors: John Davenport, George H. Balazs, John V. Faithfull And Don A. Williamson

Abstract: A large stone-like object was collected from the rectum of a leatherback turtle beached at Midway Atoll. Hawaiian Islands. It consisted of biomineralized faecal material, the mineral being struvite (NH4MgPO4.6H2O). Much material of anthropogenic origin (plastics in sheet and linear form, plus other packaging materials and monofilament nylon) was incorporated into the faecolith structure. It is hypothesized that the formation of struvite stems from the interaction of the leatherback's osmotic physiology with the metabolism of faecal bacteria. While the formation of the faecolith may be pathological, it could alternatively be an adaptive response to package garbage (whether natural or man-made).

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