317 pieces of plastic found in dead 40cm turtle

Two weeks ago Australian Seabird Rescue volunteers responded to a sea turtle stranding at South Ballina, on the Far North Coast of NSW. This morning they counted the plastic pieces they found inside.

They found the 40cm turtle dead at the high tide line, and returned to their rehabilitation centre to do a standard necropsy procedure to determine the cause of death.

During that procedure, the entire intestinal tract was removed and investigated. 

Volunteers removed a total of 317 pieces of marine plastic debris from the stomach and intestines. 

The plastic debris included multi-coloured pieces of micro-plastics similar to ice cream container plastic; three varieties of plastic bag, clear, black and blue; fishing line and other unidentifiable cotton; a plastics lid; several lollipop style sticks; plastic packing tape and plastic coated electrical wire. 

See video of the stomach contents all laid out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-LHrxwQoEE 

“The organisation is devastated at the find,” ASR General Manager Rochelle Ferris said.

“This is the most extreme case of plastic ingestion we have seen in 15 years of rescuing sea turtles on the east coast of Australia. 

“The situation is not improving. The Federal, State and Territory governments needs to act now on the Marine Debris Threat Abatement Plan to stem the flow of the garbage which is streaming into our oceans from our urban rivers and waterways.

“The Plan is supposed to ‘Contribute to the long-term prevention of the incidence of harmful marine debris’.  Well, more needs to be done, yesterday.

“And if they’re not going to act on that, then perhaps they should be funding sea turtle hospitals better.”

Recent research released by Dr Kathy Townsend of the University of Queensland, shows that 36% of marine turtles are affected by marine plastic debris. Quote: “Marine scientist Dr Kathy Townsend, of the University of Queensland, says the results of the project shows the impact marine rubbish has on the death of turtles is more than 17 times higher than the two per cent previously suggested.”

Australian Seabird Rescue responds to around 40 plastic ingestion-related sea turtle strandings a year. 

“We only operate on 250 kilometres of coastline. It makes me sick to imagine how many turtles are dying long, slow deaths across the country where there is no help,” Ms Ferris said.

3 Responses to “317 pieces of plastic found in dead 40cm turtle”


  1. Our hometown beach !! If humans in a developed country can not protect the wild kingdom from our waste then what chance has the future.

  2. DarrinVanDerKaay Says:

    Goes to show,1 response on this subject,we all need to get behind this problem,one voice can help,many voices can’t be ignored,write or email your local member ,tell them they should care.
    ENVIRO VIGILANTE 14/1/2012 6:53 am


  3. […] are at the base of the marine food chain, their fortunes dictating the success of hundreds of other species that rely on […]

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