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Watch: Plastics have killed 20 turtles so far this year

Plastics have killed 20 turtles so far this year and another 40 were found injured, Nature Trust president Vincent Attard said.

Mr Attard warned the number of turtles dying from ingesting plastic-related litter was on the rise. Fifteen turtles had died from plastic ingestion last year, he noted.

Turtles often consume plastic bags after mistaking them for jellyfish, their favourite food.

“We are seeing more plastic in the sea, so it is inevitable that turtles will be affected. We have had an increase in loggerhead turtles which ingested plastic,” he said.

“One of the latest turtles that had been rescued from Hurd’s Bank had been found with a long fishing rod in its stomach.”

Turtles were also found with severely injured flippers having been entangled in plastic debris in the ocean.

Mr Attard was speaking to the Times of Malta just days after a rare female Leatherback turtle was found dead, with fishing rope and a buoy strangling it.

An autopsy showed the eight-year-old turtle, found floating in the Gozo-Comino channel on Wednesday, had a bruise on the front flipper, the result of being entangled in a drift net.

The cause of death was a massive infection caused by plastic it had swallowed, Mr Attard said.

Two plastic bags and other debris were also found in the animal’s stomach.

Nature Trust keeps appealing to the public to dispose of plastic waste correctly.

“Our seas are full of such plastic litter and this is being eaten by the fish,” it said.

“It is indeed sad to see such magnificent creatures die be-cause of some irresponsible people,” the NGO added, noting that the turtles normally lived more than 100 years, could grow to over two metres long and weigh up to 800 kilos.

Nature Trust will be launching a plastic waste campaign next month. Mr Attard is urging the public to dispose of plastic in a responsible way and to do their best to try and collect similar debris at the beach.

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