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Thai turtle’s plastic-filled stomach heightens ocean crisis

Thai turtle’s plastic-filled stomach heightens ocean crisis

CHANTABURI: Startling images of plastic shreds, rubber bands and other debris found jammed in the stomach of a green turtle in Chanthaburi province have highlighted the crisis of waste-strewn seas following the widely publicised death of a whale earlier this month.

animalsdeathhealthenvironmentpollutionmarine
By AFP

Monday 11 June 2018, 02:55PM


Plastic, rubber bands, pieces of balloon and other rubbish had filled the turtle’s intestinal track, leaving it unable to eat. Photo: Eastern Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Centre

Plastic, rubber bands, pieces of balloon and other rubbish had filled the turtle’s intestinal track, leaving it unable to eat. Photo: Eastern Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Centre

Thailand is one of the world’s largest consumers of plastic, which kills hundreds of marine mammals and reptiles swimming off its coasts every year.

The problem grabbed public attention in the first week of June when an autopsy of a dead pilot whale found near the border with Malaysia revealed 80 plastic bags inside its stomach.

The green turtle, a protected species, suffered a similar fate after washing up on a beach in the eastern province of Chanthaburi last Monday (June 4), Weerapong Laovechprasit, a veterinarian at the Eastern Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Centre, said.

Plastic, rubber bands, pieces of balloon and other rubbish had filled the turtle’s intestinal tract, leaving it unable to eat and causing its death two days later.

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“It was feeling weak and couldn’t swim,” Mr Weerapong said. “The main cause of death is the sea trash.”

Veterinarians discovered the blockage using X-rays and tried to save the turtle by feeding it intravenously, but were only able to extract the garbage after its death.

Mr Weerapong said that in the past about 10% of the green turtles stranded on beaches in the area had ingested plastic or suffered infections after coming into contact with the waste, but this year about 50% of the incidents were trash-related.

More than half of the eight million tonnes of plastic waste dumped into the world’s oceans every year comes from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, according to a 2015 Ocean Conservancy report.

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Christy Sweet | 17 June 2018 - 11:20:21

It has everything to do with the nations' inability to educate people on the detrimental effect of discarding recyclable material on the ground where it then washes into the ocean.

Kurt | 17 June 2018 - 10:08:12

The 2015 Ocean conservancy reports names 5 Asian countries. Now we are 3 years further, and the Governments still sitting on their hands. Prove? See the photos of their beaches in these countries, plus the marine life around. It is getting worse.

Capt B | 16 June 2018 - 11:44:46

Nothing to do with the Thai Govt whatsoever, in fact, you'll probably find that all the plastic in that turtle.s guts came from Africa n Indonesia n India.  Ocean Currents.
Plastics are totally OK if disposed of correctly.

BenPendejo | 12 June 2018 - 08:32:54

These incidents of plastic killing wildlife are no longer wake-up calls... they are crisis reports of a country whose lack of solid waste management and infrastructure are having dire consequences on a regular basis (much more often than we are aware of). Regardless, the Thai government continues to support their petroleum and other polluting business cronies while ignoring these issues.

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