SINGAPORE: An internet user who took a video of a turtle at the Ridout Tea Garden with a plastic cup lid on its back urged people to be careful and dispose of their waste properly, as this could affect the lives of animals.
“Important to note to not litter especially where animals stay. (Turtle) was climbing with plastic cup lid on it at Ridout Tea Garden,” wrote a follower of the @sgfollowsall page on Instagram on Sunday (Oct 15). In the short clip, the turtle can be seen sunning itself among other tortoises in the pond, while the lid, which appears to be from a hot beverage cup found in fast-food places, is on top of its back. At one point, the animal begins to move and walk around.
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Plastic is especially harmful to turtles since the small creatures may cut themselves if the plastic has sharp edges. What is even more harmful is when the animals end up ingesting plastic, as this may cause intestinal blockages that leave turtles unable to eat, resulting in starvation, or if the sharp parts in placates rupture internal organs.
In the ocean, plastic litter is even more dangerous to marine life.
Sea turtles, for example, regularly eat jellyfish as part of their diet. However, they have been known to eat plastic bags, thinking these are jellyfish, by mistake.
Additionally, as one website notes, “Plastics don’t biodegrade. But they do break up into smaller and smaller pieces. These tiny pieces of microplastic are eventually eaten by small sea creatures and thus enter the food chain.
“Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered, and plastic is doing more than its share of damage,” says the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The global population of turtles has dwindled over recent years, and plastic is one of the biggest causes.
In recent years, global turtle population numbers have noticeably decreased, and in many ways, that’s due to plastic.
“Even a single piece of plastic can kill a turtle. Two of the turtles we studied had eaten only one piece of plastic, which was enough to kill them. In one case, the gut was punctured and in the other the soft plastic clogged the gut,” said University of the Sunshine Coast marine biologist Dr Kathy Townsend.
The Ridout Tea Garden pond is a much-beloved place in Singapore, and people have been visiting the fish and turtles here for many years now. But as the @sgfollowsall follower pointed out, it’s important to note where we put or leave our trash. /TISG