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Killer Plastic Bags Choke Rare Phuket Leatherback: Shock Photo Album

Killer Plastic Bags Choke Rare Phuket Leatherback: Shock Photo Album

Friday, March 4, 2011
The Killers: Forensic Photo Album Above

THE NIGHTMARE of human pollution was exposed for all to see today when Phuket veterinarians cut open a giant leatherback turtle in a post mortem.

Inside the stomach, the cause of the wonderful creature's death became apparent. Six plastic bags obstructed the 15-year-old turtle's digestive system, preventing food from being absorbed.

Of the bags, the one that probably caused the most damage once contained biscuits. It was labelled ''Made in Indonesia,'' said Pacharaporn Kaewmong, head vet at the Phuket Marine Biology Centre.

In the stomach as well were several fishing hooks and some green screening.

''The turtle probably mistook the plastic bags for jellyfish. The screening looks a bit like seagrass,'' said Dr Pacharaporn. ''It's quite tragic, really. What a shame so much garbage ends up in the sea.''

The leatherback lived to be 15 years old, despite having one malformed flipper. When the body of the 196 kilo leatherback was found on Wednesday, floating near a pier in Phuket City, it was thought to be female.

However, today Dr Pacharaporn said that examination of the internal sex organs showed it was male. Male or female, leatherbacks are no longer plentiful as they once were along the west coast of Phuket and north to Phang Nga province.

Hatchings were once a common occurrence at Mai Khao and other Phuket beaches, and at Thai Muang and spots further north along the Andaman coastline. Not any more.

Today the leatherbacks and four other species that once populated the Phuket region are disappearing fast, replaced by floating plastic bags.

Dr Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, Chief of the Phuket Marine Biology Centre, said: ''Creatures of all sizes in the sea have the same problem. Plastic bags kill dolphins and whales, too.''

Other human causes are also killers. A four-metre whale shark, found hurt but alive by biologists off Koh Lanta in Krabi on Tuesday, died the following day.

The whale shark had been trapped in trawler netting.
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This should be a wake up call to Phuket and the people who run this island. No more crap should be allowed on the beaches. If they copy Krabi - the turtles may start to survive again as well as other wildlife.

Like everything when you develop an area, nature is forced to move to new areas. When was the last time you saw any wild creatures, really?

Will Phuket do anything? Probably not. Anyone arrested for dumping that rubbish on the beach yet? Probably not.

Same old questions, when will someone be brave enough and say Enough is Enough!

Posted by Tbs on March 4, 2011 18:32

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Were the other five bags labelled "Made in Thailand"?

Posted by Mike Boyd on March 4, 2011 18:41

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A shocking story. Many of tourists don't understand, how to do with environment, though it is in human, tourist interests to keep nature unspoiled & local wildlife unharmed. Shame on those, who litters in the sea and in coastal areas. In Russia we have the same problem, and it seems we need to teach forcelly all cads in our countries to love nature.

Posted by kendoist on March 4, 2011 18:50

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So sad to see this. At time when I worked on boats we always told customers and staff to not throw anything overboard still very often we could see trashes floating with the current...

Posted by X expat on March 4, 2011 19:03

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At any fishing port in Thailand, I never see a fishing boats with bins aboard and bringing back their trashes to shores as they threw out all overboard during their fishing trips.
What is the fishing department doing?

Posted by Whistle-Blower on March 5, 2011 10:25

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As I have said in the past I no longer swim in the ocean off Phuket's southern beaches and some of Phuket's Western beaches because every time I do I get tangled in plastic bags within minutes, sometimes seconds after entering the surf not only has the Plastic caused the death of this turtle but may be a factor in some tourist drownings as well.

Posted by mike on March 5, 2011 10:55


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