Plastic pollution has once again made its way into the lives, and apparently, intestines of naive sea creatures. A viral video shows footage of a vet pulling out a foot-long piece of a soft plastic bag from a turtle's back end.

Animals health professionals think that it is most likely that the turtle had mistaken the floating piece of rubbage for food. If left in the creature's bowels, it would have most likely caused its death at some point, the vet believes.

The green sea turtle was spotted ashore in Rayong, eastern Thailand, on May 10. Locals noticed that it was struggling to walk, and contacted an animal rescue team. Officials took the turtle to the Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center in Bangkok.

In the video, the turtle appeared to be in distress as the plastic was carefully pulled out of its posterior orifice. The plastic waste had caused the creature to become constipated, as it affected its digestive abilities, according to the vet.

He added that it was likely that the hapless creature had mistaken the piece of plastic for a big morsel of seagrass.

Also Read: Marine Plastic Pollution Harms Bacteria That Help Us Breathe

What Happens When a Sea Turtle Eats Plastic?

According to research, about 52% of the world's turtles have unfortunately eaten plastic waste. Experts fear that the statistics might go even higher if the problem on pollution is not addressed. The reasons why these creatures ingest plastic are simple. A floating piece of plastic can easily be mistaken for a jellyfish, algae, or other small sea creatures that make up the sea turtles' diets.

These hazardous plastic materials that enter their systems can cause chaos to their digestive tracts and eventually could lead to their demise. A study conducted in 2018 revealed that eating a single piece of plastic could increase a turtle's mortality rate.

Furthermore, marine life biologists say that turtles are physically incapable of regurgitating the stuff they ingest. This means that once something has been eaten, its only way out is through defecation. In the case of plastic bags, this could be quite difficult.

Researchers say that plastic bags that end up inside a turtle's intestines could slow down the creature's digestive process, cause fatal injuries to its internal organs, or kill it.

How Bad is Plastic Pollution in the Ocean?

According to statistics published in the journal Science, approximately 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean yearly. As horrific as it sounds, researchers have found that 60 to 90 percent of all marine debris is made up of plastics.

In the United Kingdom alone, about 5,000 marine plastic pollution items of different kinds have been found per mile in beaches. Additionally, Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation charity group, reports that more than 150 plastic bottles are scattered in each mile of the beaches in the UK.

Ironically, scientists have now discovered that microplastics have reached all the way into the remote Antarctic seas as these harmful substances have been found embedded deep in its ice.

It is estimated that about 100,000 sea mammals and turtles and about a million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution every year.

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