Sea turtle choked with 317 plastic pieces found dead on Australian beach
A green turtle swims off the Malaysian island of Sipadan in Celebes Sea, east of Borneo, December 6, 2007. REUTERS/David Loh

A green sea turtle washed off dead on far North coast of New South Wales beach in Australia with over 300 pieces of plastic debris lodged in its guts.

“Unfortunately we counted 317 pieces of plastic from the lower intestine of the turtle and there is no question what caused the death of this animal,” Rochelle Ferris, General Manager of Australian Seabird Rescue, an organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine wildlife, told ABC North Coast NSW TV.

The organization, which carried the autopsy of the dead turtle, called it the worst case of death of an endangered marine animal due to direct ingestion of plastic in the last 15 years.

“130 pieces of plastic was the earlier record but for one turtle with 317 pieces of plastic is telling how much plastic is in our oceans,” Ferris said.

Plastics floating on ocean surface could look like a small tuna fish or some kind of plankton or squid or shelled creatures, which is good sea turtle food, she explained.

According to a recent study, about 36 percent of sea turtles are affected by marine debris, which is 17 times higher than any previous estimate. This is quite an alarming figure for these threatened sea turtles and marine ecosystem, she added.

Most of the debris recovered from dead animals consists of waste from urban and domestic environments including lollypop sticks, plastic bags, lids of bottles and the like that are either thrown overboard from boats or dumped near beaches and swept out to sea.

Reducing the rubbish from urban environments into the ocean would directly protect the fast depleting population of sea turtles, Ferris said.

Green sea turtles are among the most endangered or “critically endangered” list of animals on Earth. Intervention from human activities including illegal fishing and sea pollution from urban waste pose threat to their existence.