Baby turtle ‘pooed pure plastic’ for six days after rescue from Sydney beach

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The baby turtle was rescued from a Sydney beach (Taronga Zoo)
The baby turtle was rescued from a Sydney beach (Taronga Zoo)

A baby turtle rescued from a Sydney beach had eaten so much plastic it took six days for the hatchling to excrete it all out, according to a wildlife hospital.

Taronga Zoo said the 127-gram hatchling was found lying on its back in a rockpool near Sydney’s Tamarama beach.

It was missing one of its flippers, had a chip in another, and had a hole in its shell.

In a video posted to the zoo’s Twitter account, veterinary nurse Sarah Male said it cares for up to 80 turtles a year, with the “majority” of injuries coming from ingesting plastic or fishing lines.

The sanctuary cares for up to 80 turtles per year and veterinary nurse Sarah Male said the “majority” of injuries stemmed from ingesting plastics, and fishing lines.

The hatchling was in “fairly good physical condition, but when he started to defecate, he defecated six days of plastic. No faeces came out, just pure plastic”, Male said.

The sanctuary collected vials of the turtle’s faeces every day in a bid to uncover the extent of the problem.

“We came up with six tiny vials full of all different sizes of plastics. Some of the plastic that did come out was really hard, which could have caused an obstruction,” she said.

“But this little guy – luck was on his side, and he excreted it all out”.

The hospital is now caring for the turtle until eventually planning to release him into the waters around Sydney.

However, this could take up to two years.

“He’s now eating and defecating really well – no more plastics,” said Ms Male.

She added: “We want to give him the best chance, so when he’s released he’s more than just fish food”.

The hospital’s staff urged those using Sydney’s famous beaches to pick up their rubbish to avoid similar stories in the future.

More than 8m tonnes of plastic are estimated to pour into the oceans every year.

New South Wales introduced a new single-use plastics ban last month, which the Taronga Zoo said would hopefully reduce the numbers of turtles needing treatment from plastic consumption.

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