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Jul 3, 2018 4:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sea Turtle Found Dead On Southampton Beach After Ingesting 13-Gallon Plastic Bag

Jul 3, 2018 6:10 PM

Single-use plastic strikes again.

A juvenile leatherback sea turtle was found dead at Shinnecock East County Park in Southampton on Friday, according to Rachel Bosworth of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. And while a definitive cause of death could not be determined, Ms. Bosworth surmised that it may have drowned due to plastics found in the mammal’s intestines.

During a necropsy on Saturday morning, staff biologists found a 13-gallon plastic bag, as well as smaller black garbage bags and food wrappers, in the animal’s gastrointestinal tract.

“That could have led to the animal’s death,” Ms. Bosworth said on Tuesday. “The lungs looked collapsed, as if the animal had drowned.”

It could take up to several months for pathologists working with the society to confirm the cause of death, she said.

Ms. Bosworth explained that marine debris is an overwhelming problem on the East End. Last year, approximately 14 of the 80 or so sea turtles serviced by responders from the organization died from ingesting marine debris or suffering from entanglement.

On average, plastic pollution affects nearly 700 marine species per year, according to a 2017 study by Plymouth University.

Americans produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50 percent of which is for single use, like straws, plastic bags and disposable bottles—which account for approximately 14 percent of plastic pollution, according to Plastic Oceans, a California-based nonprofit organization. Many of the items can resemble food sources to some marine creatures.

To help combat the rise of plastic pollution, both the Southampton and East Hampton town boards and several East End villages banned the use of single-use plastic shopping bags in 2014, and Suffolk County enacted a similar, more inclusive ban on January 1 of this year.

On June 28, biologists from the society responded to four dead marine mammals—a bottlenose dolphin, a loggerhead sea turtle found off the coast of Montauk, and two gray seals—according to the group’s chief scientist, Robert DiGiovanni Jr.

“We've had quite a large number of animals—a lot more than what we would normally anticipate. That’s why we’re trying to engage public outreach lectures,” Mr. DiGiovanni said.

Among those lectures include screenings of a short documentary, “Straws” by Linda Booker, which discusses the dangers of single-use plastics, at local East End sites such as Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue and the Greenport Theatre.

Ms. Bosworth stressed that sick, injured or deceased marine mammals should be reported to the New York State Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829.

“Marine debris poses a serious threat to marine life,” the organization posted on its social media sites. “Conservation starts with you.”

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Ban all plastic bags- why is this so hard?
By sag631 (5), sag harbor on Jul 4, 18 6:56 AM
And mylar balloons :(
By foodwhiner (131), Southampton on Jul 10, 18 1:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
We are an Island. Why are we not doing regular beach clean ups year round? Each Town/Hamlet should be organizing regular biweekly clean ups. Volunteer beach clean ups are done by different organizations typically in the Spring . Ummm the garbage on the beach is a year round problem.....

People when u go to the beach, bend over an pick up the garbage around you, please , dont just walk past it.
By toes in the water (692), southampton on Jul 8, 18 8:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
I'm waiting for all the usual "pro" plastic bag folks to chime in.......
By bird (735), Sag Harbor on Jul 9, 18 2:13 PM
Man is a slovenly housekeeper.

While in the passenger seat of a car, just take the time to look at the litter on the shoulder of the road, and even in the woods. The amount of trash in the streets is truly disgraceful, shameful, and inexcusable.
By Mr. Z (10649), North Sea on Jul 9, 18 7:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
The man who paves India's roads with old plastic

Indian chemistry professor shows that repurposed plastic can be good for the environment


“Plastic isn’t the problem. We are. Plastic wouldn’t clog our oceans or our landfills if we didn’t throw it there in the first place. And there is so much we can do with it instead.”

~ Dr. Rajagopalan Vasudevan
By Mr. Z (10649), North Sea on Jul 9, 18 7:53 PM
Was on the north side of Montauk walking the beach and the amount of mylar balloons was staggering. I guess they blow in from Connecticut Rhode Island. Walked the ocean there and not as much but still you couldnt walk the flotsom line without seeing garbage somewhere. If anyone walkng the beach would just bring a bag with them and take away what they find.. cleaning has to start somewhere. Mylar balloons should be banned at least helium filled so they cant fly away.
By North Sea Citizen (503), North Sea on Jul 13, 18 6:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
AGREED on a Mylar balloon ban....I picked up 26 Mylar balloons within an 1/8 of a mile on the beach in SH. They are a year round problem !
By toes in the water (692), southampton on Jul 13, 18 6:29 AM