Plastic waste threatens Baclayon’s giant turtle

by Dave S. Albarado

A troubled giant sea turtle has been saved by concerned Norwegian national and a local after the creature was having digestive problems reportedly brought about by ingesting plastic refuse. And to make matters worse, the turtle also has a wound on its left flipper.

Norweigian national Bent Roisbu and local resident Eugene Baugbog took the giant sea turtle about three weeks ago. The duo decided to keep the turtle and try to nurse it back to health after it was injured.

The latest sorrowful story on marine life injury focuses on the problem of plastic trash ending up in the ocean. Plastic waste has become a huge problem and has gone unabated and has caused a number of injuries as a result. Environmental challenges have yet to be solved and the tragedy involving the injured giant sea turtle is just a reflection of a bigger problem waiting to be solved.

Lawyer Ingemar Macarine, also known as the Pinoy Aquaman, has been doing open swimming sorties as part of his advocacy to gain more awareness and promote clean seas impacted by haphazard waste disposal. He has done a lot of swim in the hope people will gain more awareness about the impact of pollution at seas. He attempted to swim across the English Channel on August but was unable to do so due to unfavorable conditions lowering the chances of a successful swim.

The troubled turtle story turns our heads to the plight of marine animals getting victimized with the irresponsible disposal of plastic waste.

Fishermen first saw the giant sea turtle and in trouble off the coast of Pamilacan Island, reports said. The giant sea turtle sustained a huge wound on the left flipper. It was theorized the wound was caused by contact with a propeller.

turtle-edited

Reports said the giant sea turtle weighed about 80 to 90 kilos. It was learned the turtle was captured before since there was a tag found with a code PH1309J.

With the giant sea turtle needing more help, authorities from the Environment and Natural Resources Department, The Coast Guard, the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian and the Baclayon Agriculture Office probed the condition of the sea creature immediately upon learning of the incident.

At first, authorities thought the turtle was just suffering from the cut sustained, but the health problem is far worse as it turned out.

Dr. Frederick Mardinan of the OPV treated the giant sea turtle’s wound to prevent further infection. The cut was just the tip of the health iceberg, it seems.

The turtle was observed for three weeks as authorities decided to bring the creature to mainland. After a closer health monitor, it was found the turtle may need to have some surgery to remove refuse which got stuck inside. Madrinan said the turtle possibly ingested some plastic flotsam thrown at sea as trash. An intravenous line was administered to the turtle as the health has been slowly declining and to help gain back some strength, said Madrinan.

Baugbog has reportedly volunteered to oversee the recovery of the giant sea turtle at one of the ponds within the Baclayon municipal complex. Yesterday, Madrinan said, the troubled turtle was transferred to the facilities of the University of San Carlos Marine Laboratory in Cebu for further tests, and to ensure the survival of the sick turtle.

HOW BIG IS THE OCEAN PLASTIC PROBLEM?

Humans dispose plastic like there is no tomorrow. Throwing plastic at sea to become flotsam can cause a huge damage and harm both to the ecology and the marine ecosystem.

Clean Water Action, a US-based non-government organization which mission is to work for water-related environmental protection, said about 80 percent of marine refuse and debris are from urban runoff from land-based sources. Ocean-based refuse account for the other 20 percent, the organization said.

Food containers and packaging remains to be the biggest problem of plastic pollution together with plastic bags comprise marine debris.

Scientists have long understood the devastating affects that plastic bags, bottles and other byproducts have on marine ecosystems. Now it appears that plastic pollution has had significant impacts on populations of all seven sea turtle species, a new study reveals.

“I was shocked at how little is known about the impacts of plastic on marine turtles,” Sarah Nelms, one of the study’s lead authors from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, said in a news release. “We know that discarded plastic poses a serious threat to wildlife, but this study shows that more research is urgently needed if we are to understand the scale of the problem.”

Annual global plastic production has grown from 1.5 million tons to 299 million tons in the last 65 years, according to the release. This only increases the amount of plastic pollution that ends up on both land and at sea. While previous studies have identified the threat of plastic pollution on seabird populations, for the recent study researchers specifically examined how sea turtles ingest or become entangled in discarded plastic debris.

Algalita Marine Research Foundation researchers said there has been an increase in the volume of plastic debris thrown in the ocean happening worldwide.

Rappler.com reported in 2015, the Philippines is the third largest dumper of plastic waste in the ocean and the largest one in Southeast Asia.

This was revealed via a report made by Ocean Conservacy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are responsible in dumping half of the world’s plastic flotsam that end up in the oceans, the report said. The common denominator among the top five countries notorious in dumping plastic in the ocean is the “exploding demand for consumer products that has not yet been met with a commensurate waste-management infrastructure,” the study said.

Philippines, in the February 2015 study said, is responsible for generating 2.7 million metric tons of plastic garbage per year. About a fifth or about 512,000 tons of the trash end up floating in the ocean.

The study further found out 74 percent of the Philippine-generated plastics leaking into the ocean were already been collected by haulers and garbage trucks. The total reaches 386,000 tons of plastic trash.

Only 26 percent of the plastics which end in the ocean come from the uncollected garbage.

“Waste is usually dumped at the roadside, at informal deposit sites, or directly into waterways in locations where it is convenient to do so,” reads the report.

WHY WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT PLASTICS AT SEA?

Plastic has become a huge part of modern human life. It has become too rooted in our lives we seem to taken plastic for granted. We see and use plastic almost everywhere. Chances the smartphone or the toothbrush we use everyday are made from plastic.

Often plastics are improperly disposed or discarded leading to potentially catastrophic impact to ocean ecology and the marine life and ecosystem. Plastics find their way to the oceans, which is a huge problem.

Almost 1.7 million pieces of candy plastic wrappers have ended in the ocean and were collected during the International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2013. The second most abundant refuse ending in the ocean is cigarette butts.

Almost half of the top 10 trash collected during that day is made of plastic. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said about 100,000 of marine animals are getting killed per year due to plastic debris in the oceans.

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1 Comment on "Plastic waste threatens Baclayon’s giant turtle"

  1. Ciriaco Ayaa-ay Darunday Jr. | November 28, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Reply

    I just built a house by the side of the creek in Taguihon, Baclayon, Bohol. I had a chance to walk through the lenght of the base of the dry creek ( 110 meters from the highway to the sea) and to my dismay saw different types of plastic trash lining the creek. I realized that those plastic trashes I saw in the sea while canoeing from Taguihon Beach to Baliaut Spring Pool with my family some came through the creeks that lines the shores of Baclayon. We complained to the Barangay and the Bo. Captain posted a notice in the creek reminding the people of the law penalizing trash throwers ( If caught, my addition)). A concerted program of reeducating the Boholanos of their responsibility to the environment would give a greater impact to the effort of saving our ocean from plastic trashes.

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