How many heartbreaking images of innocent animals caught up in our ocean waste problem will it take for people to take action? This week alone we’ve had the polar bear in Svalbard captured trying to eat a plastic bag and the incredibly remote deep sea “living fossil” fish that had a potato chip packet in its stomach.
This time it’s the turn of the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the rarest of all sea turtles.
A Facebook post from South Walton Turtle Watch yesterday revealed the sad pictures, and ultimately tragic fate, of this rare female found trapped in a bar stool of all things on a beach in Florida.
“We did get this beautiful lady out of the chair. She was a critical endangered Kemps and of course she was dead,” the post reads.
“Look at her head to see what she went through. Poor thing it must have been an awful death.”
She was found on Monday evening on Dune Allen Beach in South Walton County, pulled already dead from the ocean by a local resident. The remains were too mangled even for a necropsy, but the cause of death was clear.
“It was very heartbreaking to see such an endangered animal, [it] had to be a terrible way to die,” Michael Abshure of South Walton Turtle Watch told local news broadcaster WEAR-TV. “Entangled in that chair, I would imagine that’s a long, slow death.”
It was only last month that the carcass of another Kemp’s ridley turtle was discovered on a beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, this time trapped inside a beach chair. It appeared to have got entangled in a rope attached to the fabric and metal camping chair.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the rarest in the world. They only live in the Gulf of Mexico, and part of the east coast of the United States. Population numbers went from around 100,000 in the 1940s down to just a few hundred in the 1980s, but have started creeping back up again thanks to designated conservation and breeding areas for these small turtles.
As their numbers are slowly increasing, groups like South Walton Turtle Watch are urging beachgoers in these regions to do one simple thing: if you go to the beach, pick up after yourself.
“Please do not leave your items, anything, on the beach,” they said in their post. “Why can't we keep things off the beach at night? Please spread the word and do your part.”