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Shocking autopsy photos show how shopping bags kill sea turtles – forming balls of plastic in their stomach that rupture their intestines

Shocking autopsy photos show how shopping bags kill sea turtles – forming balls of plastic in their stomach that rupture their intestines

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A series of confronting photos showing the fatal effects a plastic bag can have on turtles when the animals mistake it for food has environmental groups questioning why they haven’t been banned.

Just one rubbish bag can be lethal to sea turtles if ingested as the debris is capable of blocking the stomach or intestines by forming into a tight wad of plastic.

If the blockage doesn’t starve the turtles it can puncture their intestines or the plastic can even release toxins into the animal’s body.

Confronting photos showing the fatal effects a plastic bag can have on turtles when they ingest it has environmentalist questioning why they haven’t been banned Australia-wide

Plastic bags have been banned in most parts of Australia but are still available at retailers in NSW.

The Boomerang Alliance, which represents 32 different environmental groups, says roughly 61 million plastic bags are discarded as litter each year in NSW while that figure reaches up to 180 million nationally.

‘Discarded plastic bags are injuring and killing wildlife and need to be banned,’ Jeff Angel from the Boomerang Alliance said.

‘We estimate that at least 16.5 million plastic bags enter the little stream in NSW every year.’

This x-ray of a sea turtle shows how a plastic bag can block the passage to the animal's stomach

This x-ray of a sea turtle shows how a plastic bag can block the passage to the animal’s stomach

The Australian Registry of Wildlife Health, which operates as part of Taronga Zoo, has documented the damage plastic bags can do to a sea turtle via autopsies 

The Australian Registry of Wildlife Health, which operates as part of Taronga Zoo, has documented the damage plastic bags can do to a sea turtle via autopsies

Plastic bags have been banned in most parts of Australia but an environmental group is calling for them to be banned in the state of NSW too

Plastic bags have been banned in most parts of Australia but an environmental group is calling for them to be banned in the state of NSW too

Senior veterinarian at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo Dr Larry Vogelnest told Fairfax Media the most common problems for wildlife was plastic bags.

‘Sea turtles are the main species we have affected. They see these bags in the water and they think they are jelly fish, so they eat them,’ he said.

’70 per cent of turtles we get in have ingested plastic, around 20 per cent of those end up dying.’

The Australian Registry of Wildlife Health, which operates as part of Taronga Zoo, has documented the damage plastic bags can do to a sea turtle via autopsies.

An x-ray of a sea turtle shows how a plastic bag can block the passage to the animal’s stomach, while an autopsy shows the blockages it can cause to the intestines.

The Boomerang Alliance, which represents 32 different environmental groups, says roughly 61 million plastic bags are discarded as litter each year in NSW while that figure reaches up to 180 million nationally

The Boomerang Alliance, which represents 32 different environmental groups, says roughly 61 million plastic bags are discarded as litter each year in NSW while that figure reaches up to 180 million nationally

Discarded plastic bags are injuring and killing wildlife and need to be banned, according to Jeff Angel from the Boomerang Alliance, which looks after 32 different environmental groups

Senior veterinarian at Sydney's Taronga Zoo Dr Larry Vogelnest said 70 per cent of turtles they get in have ingested plastic and about 20 per cent of those end up dying

Senior veterinarian at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo Dr Larry Vogelnest said 70 per cent of turtles they get in have ingested plastic and about 20 per cent of those end up dying