An assessment of heavy metals in green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) hatchlings from Saudi Arabia’s largest rookery, Ras Baridi

Lyndsey K. Tanabe*, Kirsty Scott, Vijayalaxmi Dasari, Michael L. Berumen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Anthropogenic sources can lead to the accumulation of heavy metals in marine organisms through ingestion, absorption, or inhalation. For sea turtle embryos, heavy metals can be absorbed into the egg from the incubation environment or be maternally transferred to the offspring causing neurological, reproductive, and developmental problems. Here, we report heavy metal concentrations in green turtle hatchlings from the largest rookery on the Red Sea, Ras Baridi. Methods: Deceased hatchlings were collected from two beaches near a cement factory at Ras Baridi, from which heavy metal concentrations (chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), selenium (Se), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb)) were measured from the liver, muscle, and residual yolk of the hatchlings. Results: Although based on a small sample of hatchlings, the data presented here provides the first measurements of heavy metals from sea turtles in the Red Sea and highlights the link between human activity and its impact on the ecology of sea turtles. In general, the heavy metal concentrations of heavy metals were not significantly different between the beach next to the cement factory and the beach downwind from the factory. However, the concentrations of heavy metals were significantly different between sampled tissues (liver, muscle, and residual yolk). Discussion: This study provides insight into current heavy metal levels in green turtle hatchlings, which can be used as bio-indicators for environmental contaminants as coastal development increases in the Red Sea. Moreover, we found a lack of standardized methodology to evaluate heavy metals in hatchling sea turtles. Future efforts should work toward creating comparable techniques for long-term heavy metal monitoring, as this is a useful determinant of anthropogenic pollution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13928
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022


  • Cement
  • Chelonia mydas
  • Conservation
  • Contamination
  • Heavy metal
  • Pollution
  • Red Sea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sea turtle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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