Two Turtles Dead After Being Trapped In Rubbish Off QLD Coast
GRAPHIC WARNING: This story contains content that may be distressing for some readers.
Confronting footage has emerged of two turtles which reportedly died after becoming tangled in rubbish floating below the water's edge in Queensland.
Local diver and underwater filmmaker Brett Vercoe captured the animals at Moreton Banks, a huge expanse of shallows in Moreton Bay Marine Park, last week. He said they appeared to have been dead for about one week.
The marine park is an identified turtle and dugong habitat in the state's south-east, where plastic debris is known to injure marine life, some who face an agonising death.
According to Vercoe, the turtles were surrounded by dumped metal and rope, including metal offcuts and wheel rims.
"This is a graphic video, however if that's what it takes to make people think about dumping their rubbish in the ocean, so be it," Vercoe wrote on Facebook.
10 daily has contacted the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service --who reportedly investigated the incident -- for comment.
About 200 turtles are reported dead, injured or sick in Moreton Bay Marine Park every year, according to the Save Moreton Bay project.
Turtles are either struck by motor boats, become entangled in rubbish or eat plastic debris, resembling its natural food, which can lead to a slow death.
'Even a single piece of plastic can kill a turtle'
It's a growing risk to the world's declining sea turtle populations that was quantified for the first time by CSIRO and the University of Sunshine Coast two months ago.
“We knew that turtles were consuming a lot of plastic, but we didn’t know for certain whether that plastic actually caused the turtles’ deaths,” CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere researcher Dr Chris Wilcox said.
"In other words, we wanted to know 'How much plastic is too much plastic?' for sea turtles."
They found sea turtles have more than a one in five chance of dying after ingesting a single piece of plastic.
"Even a single piece of plastic can kill a turtle," said Dr Kathy Townsend, Lecturer in Animal Ecology at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“Two of the turtles we studied had eaten only one piece of plastic which was enough to kill them. In one case, the gut was punctured and in the other the soft plastic clogged the gut,” she said.
Sea turtles were among the first animals recorded to be ingesting plastic debris, a phenomenon that occurs in every region of the world and in all seven marine turtle species.
Globally, it is estimated that approximately 52 percent of all sea turtles have eaten plastic.
Featured image: Brett Vercoe
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