IN A BID to save aquatic animals, biologists have urged people not to throw garbage, notably plastic, into the sea and even refrain from tossing coins into turtle ponds for good luck.
Meanwhile, a green turtle named “Ormsin” will go under the knife tomorrow to remove a large amount of coins it swallowed. Doctors said the animal has a 50-50 chance of surviving the operation, but said it would certainly die within a few months, if nothing is done to save it.
With many instances recently |of aquatic animals injured or |killed by eating garbage or inedible items, a marine biologist |from Kasetsart University Thon Thamrongnawa-sawat urged |people not to litter in the sea, saying it is deadly for other creatures.
“The recent case of animals that face death from eating garbage is the big old green turtle that we found, its stomach was filled with plastic garbage. Turtles aren’t smart enough to distinguish plastic from seaweed or jellyfish, which are their main diet, and eventually eat garbage and die,” Thon said.
“The big old turtle that we found was over 100 kilograms in weight and could produce thousands of newborn turtles, which would surely have a large consequence on the marine ecosystem, as turtles feed on jelly fish, many of which are harmful to humans. The death of this rare turtle also jeopardises the effort to save this endangered species from extinction and harm Thailand’s reputation.”
He said the way to solve the sea garbage problem was to control the use of plastic.
“The example of the plastic reduction policy of Chulalongkorn University is very splendid, as the university can reduce plastic bag usage within the campus from 26,000 bags to 2,000 bags within one month. So, the government should come out with the similar policy to sell plastic bags instead of giving them out for free and also collect extra tax on items harmful to the environment,” he suggested.
“We should be responsible for the garbage we create. We can save many marine animals and preserve the beauty of the sea by reducing the plastic waste and not allowing litter in the sea.”
Nantarika Chansue, of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Chulalongkorn University, also stressed that aquatic animals in captivity also need good care as well. She urged people not to throw rubbish into ponds or release animals into an unhealthy habitat.
“Many people have a belief that if they toss a coin into a turtle pond, they will have good fortune and a long life like a turtle. However, that belief conflicts with the fact that we should not throw anything into a turtle pond,” Nantarika said.
“The turtle is just like a child – it will try to eat anything. Moreover, the coin has similar size and weight as a small fish that is turtles’ prey, so they eat it. In the case of Ormsin, we are not sure if he has swallowed the most coins, but we are quite sure that when the turtle feels unwell they will eat more, so we found large amount of coins in its stomach.”
She said Ormsin would be ready for an operation to remove the coins tomorrow. But even if the operation is a success, he will still be under intensive care to recover his health.