Long, Slow Death of a Sea Turtle

317 pieces. That’s how much plastic clogged the digestive system of the giant sea turtle found dead on a beach in New South Wales. The animal had quietly and slowly starved. Food could no longer find its way past the bits of fishing line, plastic bags, small lids, plastic tape, and lollipop sticks the turtle had mistaken for food.

This was a young animal so the plastic was packed into a body that had grown to only 15 inches (40 centimeters). Australian Seabird Rescue volunteers who performed the necropsy called their findings the worst example of plastic ingestion they had seen in 15 years.

Plastic rubbish in 30% of dead turtles

A new study from Earthwatch in Queensland looked at the guts of over 120 dead turtles found in Moreton Bay. Dr. Kathy Townsend found plastic rubbish in over 30 per cent of them.

In an interview with ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Townsend describes the turtles’ lingering deaths. As bits of plastic get stuck in their digestive systems, the debris mixes with what organic material they can still take in. The toxic mix decomposes, creating gas. The now-buoyant turtles are unable to dive. They can’t feed or avoid boats. “So it also means that they basically become very dehydrated, and they starve to death, and this can last for months.”

In the ABC footage seen at this link, seabird rescue spokeswoman Rochelle Ferris calls on all levels of government to invest more money in “reducing the amount of marine debris that’s coming from our urban environments into the ocean. If we do control this marine debris issue, I’ll be out of work,  but I’d like to be doing something that doesn’t break my heart every day.”

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Photo by rogerimp


Julia R.
Julia R2 years ago

How horrific! These Sea Turtles, once lively and healthy, suffer such horrible consequences because of human self-centeredness, abuse, and negligence of our beautiful environment and its amazing inhabitants. Please cut down or better yet try to eliminate plastic in your life. Bring your own cloth bags to grocery stores and be mindful of recycling plastic and how you dispose of garbage.

Our govts. do need to invest in reducing the massive amount of marine debris that is going into our oceans. But, we all can help and do our part as well. To treat our marine life, in such a horrific manner with no thought for their lives and the suffering that we have wreaked upon them is literally a crime. We all need to become more conscious of the impact that our actions have on other living beings on our planet!

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton6 years ago

Shame on all these people who allowed this to happen .

Ely Chassid
E C6 years ago

this is sad and disgusting. if there aren't huge fines for littering--there should be. and better ways to catch the slobs at doing it--because most do get away with it because there's no one around to see most of it happening. I've seen all kinds of stuff on the beach-- it's gross that some two-leggeds think they can do whatever they feel like--wherever they want. Too lazy to look for a garbage can? Bring a big bag with you to parks, beaches-rest areas, etc--and take it home and throw it away. The world is not your trash can. -_____- Too many 'lesser' animals are affected by the laziness and stupidity of bi-peds. If they make the penalties for things bigger--then maybe more people will actually think before just chucking something out the car door, or anywhere else. And even if it's disposed of in the right way--in cans or something--it's still getting out into the water. People in charge of those things have to find out why---and stop it from happening.

Beth H.
beth Hall6 years ago

I am sickened by the slow death and torture of this beautiful, innocent creature. And to think this could have been avoided if it weren't for man. The turtles and other sea dwellers didn't put the garbage in the water!

Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

This is so sad. An innocent animal died because of human waste and laziness.

Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is a very sad story. Other animals has to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy averything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago


Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc6 years ago

Ban the use of plastic bags and we must also be responsible as to how we dispose of products we do use they are killing the sea life and damaging the environment. Can you just imagine the agony this poor creature had to endure? Stop littering and use the appropriate disposals for your trash. And if you see trash, pick it up and put it in the trash can.

Toni Adisano
.6 years ago

When I was a child, my father taught us that as human beings, we are the care takers of this world and it's our responsibility to take care of our wildlife and our environment. It's a lesson I've never forgotten. It's beyond sad to think of the pain imposed on these poor creatures, because some people are either too lazy or too uncaring to recycle. It's time to learn to respect the eco system. The planet is meant to be shared by all.
Toni Adisano

Katherine W.
Katherine Wright6 years ago

How incredibly sad.

Can you just imagine the agony this poor creature had to endure? As humans we should be ashamed and embarassed at how we treat one another, the animals of the world and our environment. We can, and must, do better.

Ban the use of plastic bags and we must also be responsible as to how we dispose of products we do use...they are killing the sea life and damaging the environment.

This story is very upsetting.