Chemicals from human cosmetics and drugs have been found in the blood of turtles living in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Green turtles were found to have hundreds of thousands of different chemicals in their blood stream, which had caused the animals to suffer from liver dysfunction.

Scientists said the discovery highlighted the devastating impact of man-made matter on marine life.

Medications for the heart (milrinone) and gout (allopurinol), as well as cosmetic and industrial chemicals, were among substances detected in the reptiles' bloodstream as part of an ongoing conservation project, reports Daily Mail.

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Green turtles are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Scientists said exposure to the substances had caused side effects in the turtles, with indications of inflammation and liver dysfunction.

"Humans are putting a lot of chemicals into the environment and we don't always know what they are and what effect they are having," said Amy Heffernan of the University of Queensland.

"What you put down your sink, spray on your farms, or release from industries ends up in the marine environment and in turtles in the Great Barrier Reef."

Researchers tested turtles at Cleveland Bay and Upstart Bay along the Queensland coast, as well as the more remote Howicks islands in the reef's north as part of the 'Rivers to Reef to Turtles' project led by WWF-Australia.

The 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) long barrier reef, a World Heritage site, is already under pressure from farming run-off, development, crown-of-thorns starfish and climate change.

It suffered its most severe bleaching on record last year and some scientists say the reef is now damaged beyond repair.

Aerial and in-water surveys showed 22 per cent of shallow water corals were destroyed in 2016, but it has now been bumped up to 29 per cent and with the reef currently experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of bleaching, the outlook is grim.

"We're very concerned about what this means for the Great Barrier Reef itself and what it means for the communities and industries that depend on it," Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) chairman Russell Reichelt said.

"The amount of coral that died from bleaching in 2016 is up from our original estimates and, at this stage, although reports are still being finalised, it's expected we'll also see an overall further coral cover decline by the end of 2017."

WWF-Australia said the turtles could be used as a bio-monitoring tool to find out what chemicals were entering reef waters and what their impact on marine life could be.

In 2015, scientists said that a chemical used in sunscreen could be causing massive damage to coral reefs worldwide and threatening their very existence.

The chemical, oxybenzone, was causing "gross deformities" in baby coral, the study said.

Is the Great Barrier Reef damaged beyond repair?

They say coral bleaching in the area is worse than thought, partly because of the 'extraordinary rapidity' of global warming. Photo / 123RF
They say coral bleaching in the area is worse than thought, partly because of the 'extraordinary rapidity' of global warming. Photo / 123RF

The Great Barrier Reef can no longer be saved in its present form and is damaged beyond repair, scientists warned this week.

They say coral bleaching in the area is worse than thought, partly because of the "extraordinary rapidity" of global warming.

Instead, scientists should be taken to maintain the World Heritage Site's "ecological function".

The 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) World Heritage-listed reef suffered its most severe bleaching on record last year due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.

Initial aerial and in-water surveys showed 22 per cent of shallow water corals were destroyed in 2016, but it has now been bumped up to 29 per cent.

"We're very concerned about what this means for the Great Barrier Reef itself and what it means for the communities and industries that depend on it," Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) chairman Russell Reichelt said.

"The amount of coral that died from bleaching in 2016 is up from our original estimates and, at this stage, although reports are still being finalised, it's expected we'll also see an overall further coral cover decline by the end of 2017."

Bleaching, which occurs when abnormal conditions such as warmer sea temperatures cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour, also extended to deeper corals beyond depths divers can typically survey.