I once heard that “education is the art of repetition”, so once again I pass on an article from La Reunion about the deadly impact of waste on the marine megafauna, and particularly on marine turtles.
Recently, Stephane Ciccione, director of "Kelonia, the observatory of marine turtles", received a call from a group of people sailing near Cap La Houssaye. They had just seen a turtle floating at the surface and did not know what to do about it. As they approached, the animal did not respond and even tried to swim away. After boarding the turtle on the boat, the crew came back to the harbour and handed it to Stephane, who immediately took the turtle to the vet.
After searching into Kelonia’s turtle profile database, he recognised the turtle as being a young male hawksbill seen a couple of weeks earlier by free divers, who named it Lémira.
Once at the vet, they took a blood sample and x-rays revealed a blockage in the digestive system. Unfortunately, despite all the care the turtle died and the autopsy revealed a shocking result. Dozens of meters of nylon ropes and pieces of hard plastics were found in the stomach.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case. Every year, the care centre receives wild marine turtles injured because of human activities, all of them having ingested some plastic waste. In the best cases, the individuals reject the waste in their faeces, but in the worst cases, they die from intestinal blockage.
This sad event took place during the World Ocean Days, a sad reminder about the negative impacts of plastic waste on marine life. On the occasion, Kelonia organised two cleaning sessions of the beach nearby and held a conference with GLOBICE, the association in charge of observing marine mammals around Reunion Island.
This feature was contributed by:
Assistante Pédagogique et Scientifique
Kélonia, l'observatoire des tortues marines
46 rue du Général de Gaulles
97436 St Leu