Nitrogen causes tumours in sea turtles

So… I was going through a bunch of articles today and came across something really sad… Pollution in urban and farm runoff in Hawaii is causing tumors in endangered sea turtles, according to this new study. The study showed that nitrogen from urban and farm runoff ends up being stored by algae, the algae that turtles eat. The high levels of nitrogen taken up by the turtles indirectly through algae cause the formation of the tumours on the animals eyes, flippers and internal organs. The tumour-forming disease is better known as Fibropapillomatosis, which is one of the leading causes of death in green turtles. 

“One way that algae store excess nitrogen is in an amino acid called arginine. The researchers found unusually high levels of arginine both in the algae in highly polluted waters and in the tumors of diseased turtles. Arginine levels in algae in less polluted waters and tumor-free tissues were comparatively low.

Because this algae contains so much arginine and the turtles eat so much of it, the turtles have approximately 14 times more arginine in their systems than they would if they were eating native algae species in less-polluted waters, said Van Houtan.

Arginine is just one of the molecules the researchers measured in the turtle tumors. They also found elevated levels of amino acids that are common in human cancer tumors, such as proline and glycine, Van Houtan said.”

This makes me so sad. I really hope after further research, researchers are able to not only help protect these beautiful turtles but also other marine species including plants and animals that are facing the same sort of issue due to an intense level of pollutants in their habitat.


The white things seen on the turtle are the tumours 😦  

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