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Endangered Green Sea Turtle Which Had Eaten Plastic Waste Rescued In The Philippines, Died Shortly After

Green sea turtle died in Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines

The Philippines is home to many species of sea turtles, but as human consumption and pollution are causing harm to their natural habitat, more and more sea turtles are put in peril.

So it was unfortunate, but no surprise that an endangered green sea turtle, found to have eaten plastic waste, has recently died in Zamboanga del Sur after being rescued. 

Trapped inside a fish pen, the turtle was first seen by Mr. Alberto Gratol, a local fisherman at Barangay Kabatan, Vincenzo Sagun, Zamboanga del Sur, who reported it to the Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) Guipos and Bureau of Fish and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) authorities in his area. 

The turtle was found in a weak state

Green sea turtle - Zamboanga del Sur
Image credit: DENR Zamboanga Peninsula 

When the CENRO Guipos and BFAR representatives arrived on the scene where Gratol had reported the turtle, several parts of the weak turtle’s body were covered in barnacles, a group of small crustaceans that can be harmful to sea turtles.

The team from the said organizations had tried to save the turtle, but it proved too late as the turtle died shortly after the rescue operation.

Plastic straw and nylon were found inside its body

Green sea turtle - inside the sea turtle
Image credit: DENR Zamboanga Peninsula

Not surprisingly, several plastic waste items such as plastic straw and nylon were discovered inside the turtle’s body after the rescue teams conducted a necropsy examination, which is an autopsy conducted on a dead animal.

Green sea turtle - inside the sea turtle
Image credit: DENR Zamboanga Peninsula

Turtles usually mistake plastics for edible jellyfish

Green sea turtle - jellyfishJellyfish
Image credit:

Sea turtles commonly eat other marine species such as jellyfish. But since a floating plastic bag in the sea can look like a jellyfish in the eyes of sea turtles, they usually mistake plastics for a delicious jellyfish snack.

But once they eat even just one plastic item, the plastic can cost them their lives.

Authorities believed the ingested plastic waste led the turtle to its death

Green sea turtle - buried
The turtle was buried
Image credit:
DENR Zamboanga Peninsula

Authorities believed that the plastic waste ingested by the turtle led the creature to its death.

Green sea turtle - buried
Image credit: DENR Zamboanga Peninsula 

After the necropsy, the turtle was immediately buried to avoid contamination.

Stay away from a turtle when you see it on a shore

Green sea turtles Green sea turtles
Image credit:

Turtles found on shore are usually nesting, or finding a place to lay their eggs. So if you happen to come across a turtle while on a holiday at the beach, maintain a safe distance of at least 20 meters from the animal. Do not take pictures of a nesting turtle using a camera with a flash as well, as nesting turtles are sensitive to light.

But if you see a turtle that seems to need help, report to the office of a local government unit or a nearby office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Saving sea turtles

It’s alarming that our sea turtles have to face the danger of extinction due to our harmful, everyday practices. And while we can help by living an eco-friendly life, it’s sadly not enough as long as pollution is widespread.

Besides maintaining eco-conscious habits and disposing of waste in the right places, we hope that people will help spread the word of how to take care of our wildlife, so we won’t have to hear sad news about needless animal deaths in the future. 

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Cover image credit: DENR Zamboanga Peninsula, DENR Zamboanga Peninsula