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.”

Related Stories

Photo by rogerimp

78 comments

Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

TYFS

SEND
Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

TYFS

SEND
Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

TYFS

SEND
Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

TYFS

SEND
Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

TYFS

SEND
Julia R.
Julia R3 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!

SEND
Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton7 years ago

Shame on all these people who allowed this to happen .

SEND
Ely Chassid
E C7 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.

SEND
Beth H.
beth Hall7 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!

SEND
Joy Jin
Joy Jin7 years ago

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

SEND