Endangered green turtle found dead after eating marine litter

October 27, 2015 11:11
Plastic waste (inset) found in the stomach of a green turtle that washed up dead on a Sai Kung beach over the weekend. Photo: Mandy Wong

Conservationists in Hong Kong are expressing concern about the growing threat posed by ocean trash to endangered marine animals.

The issue has come to the fore again as a green turtle was found dead in Sai Kung over the weekend, apparently after ingesting too much trash.

On Saturday, people noticed the lifeless body of a green turtle, which is classified as an endangered species, lying on a beach at Pak Lap village, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The turtle's body was said to have been dragged by stray dogs and its stomach mauled. An examination revealed that the stomach was full of litter.

The trash found inside the turtle, which was about 40-50 centimeters long, included nylon string and plastic bags.

It was the first time that evidence has been found in Hong Kong that green turtles were consuming marine litter under the belief that it was food, the report cited the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as saying.

After looking at the pictures of the turtle’s body, Chong Dee-hwa, the founder of the Hong Kong Ichthyological Society, believes the green turtle was a female aged around 10 years.

The plastic and other marine litter that the green turtle ate might have destroyed its digestive system and caused infection.

Patrick Yeung, project manager of the Coastal Watch Project under the WWF, said the case can be taken as evidence that sea turtles in Hong Kong are eating a lot of trash, which is a worrying situation.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department was quoted as saying that it has been informed about the case and that it will depute an officer to look into the matter.

Green turtle is a protected species in Hong Kong. The beach area in Sham Wan on Lamma Island and nearby shallow waters is one of the last nesting sites of the highly endangered green turtles of southern China.

Since 1999, the area was being closed to the public from June to October every year to enable the turtles to carry out their nesting activities.

-- Contact us at [email protected]