Making the impact of Small Garbage REAL:
Drawn from the experiences of Lance Ferris, Former President of the Australian Seabird Rescue

Small garbage carelessly discarded on a beach or in the sea seems no more than litter, until it translates into the life of an individual turtle taken in your care. The late Lance Ferris, Former President of the Australian Seabird Rescue iterated the immensity of the problem of small garbage on marine wildlife ‘The ocean contains 1,388,000,000 cubic kilometres of water. In that amount of water, a hatchling found and ingested two 3mm diameter pieces of hard plastic.
One of the pieces of the 3mm plastic blocked the pylorus at the bottom of its stomach’. After conducting countless necropsies (or post mortems) on washed up or rescued sea turtles, assessments on how the numerous types of plastics are consumed by unsuspecting turtles and result in starvation, septicaemia and ultimately death.

This green sea turtle was only 19 centimetres long, yet had consumed 76 pieces of plastic! Another turtle died after passing 107 items, including plastic, rope, fishing line- and even part of a clothes peg!

This turtle was washed ashore barely alive, near comatose. Sadly it was a turtle that had already been in care and released by the Australian Seabird Rescue 2 months earlier. When they conducted the necropsy the turtle’s stomach appeared to be full but below the small intestines were empty- something had blocked the passage of food.

Exploring further they discovered the culprit, at the bottom of the stomach (the pylorus) several thin ribbons of plastic were entwined in fibrous food matter preventing the food from passing into the intestine.

The plastic ‘ribbon-like’ material (washed and replaced in this image)
had most probably come from a rural feed bag.

The propulsion of food through the digestive tract would have reduced rapidly making the faecal matter to dry out and compact. This turtle would have died from starvation, peritonitis (inflammation of organs) and other factors caused from not passing food.

The alarming truth is that even if ALL plastic production was to stop now, we would still have to face to problem for 400 or more years to come. As humans we have to accept the responsibility of our actions on the natural environment and embark collectively to mitigate the impacts as much as possible. The victims of our carelessness die a slow and painful death that no creature should have to endure.

Necropsy Report, conducted by Lance Ferris, Australian Seabird Rescue: and emails circulated by Lance Ferris on C-TURTLE list server:

Lance “Pelican Man” Ferris sadly passed away (12/10/2007) during the creation of this website and we would like to pay tribute to his passion, enthusiasm and dedication to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine wildlife in Australia.