More than 20 sea turtles killed by debris

More than 20 sea turtles killed by debris

A researcher examines a sea turtle seriously injured after becoming tangled up in plastic waste. (Photo by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
A researcher examines a sea turtle seriously injured after becoming tangled up in plastic waste. (Photo by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)

Big piles of garbage floating in the sea have become a killing zone for 23 sea turtles, which were found dead or nearly dead on two beaches in Phuket and Phangnga provinces over the past two months, according to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, an outspoken marine conservationist and deputy dean of the Fisheries Department at Kasetsart University, said the information he received from the department indicated that most of the victims had come to the beaches for seasonal egg-laying. 

"It's the highest number on record for two months. Most of them were mature turtles ready to lay hundreds of eggs. They were trapped by garbage and can’t move. The wounds and the heat gradually killed most of them. They must have suffered a great deal before dying," he wrote on his Facebook page.

The turtles were found on Hat Mai Khao in Sirinat National Park in Phuket and Thaimueang beach in Lampi-Hat Thaimueang National Park in Phangnga. Most of them had died and a few were in critical condition. The two beaches are the country’s most important locations for egg-laying by sea turtles.

The animals often become trapped under piles of floating garbage while swimming in search of fish. Sometimes, they are rescued by fishermen or tourists. But during the monsoon season, few trawlers are at sea, reducing the turtles' chances of survival.

The country loses hundreds of marine species, including sea turtles, dolphins and whales each year. Many of them become stranded on beaches, suffering from injuries caused by fishing gear and from eating plastic waste.

The Natural Resources and Environment Monistry has vowed to reduce the amount of waste in the se by stepping up a against the use of plastic bags. Thailand was responsible for 1.03 million tonnes of plastic waste in the sea in 2016, the sixth highest total in the world. China ranks first with 8.8 million tonnes. 


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