Asia

160 turtles caught in plastic waste rescued from Bangladesh beach

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh: About 160 sea turtles, many of them injured after getting entangled in plastic waste, have been rescued after washing up on one of the world's longest beaches in Bangladesh, an official and conservationists said on Wednesday (Jul 15).

The Olive Ridley turtles began floating to shore at Cox's Bazar with a huge mass of plastic bottles, fishing nets, buoys and other debris at the weekend.

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Survivors were released back into the Bay of Bengal, but some were returning to the beach that stretches 120km.

About 30 had died and were buried in the sand.

"This is the first time we have seen such a large-scale death and washing up of injured turtles on the beach. It is unprecedented," said Nazmul Huda, deputy director of the local environment department.

"Around 160 turtles have been rescued alive… but after their release in the sea, some of these turtles have come back to the beach. I think they are too weak to stay in the sea."

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Many of the turtles sustained injuries from being caught in the estimated 50 tonnes of waste floating in a 10-kilometre stretch along the coast.

"Some of the turtles did not have legs or heads," said Asaduzzaman Sayem from local conservation group Darianagar Green Boys.

"We rescued a 40kg turtle alive. It was entangled in plastic nets and it did not have legs."

The Olive Ridley turtles floated to shore at Cox's Bazar with a huge mass of plastic bottles, fishing nets, buoys and other debris. (AFP/Suzauddin RUBEL)

Leading Bangladesh turtle and tortoise expert Shahriar Caesar Rahman of the NGO Creative Conservation Alliance said the creatures were "heavily stressed" and may not survive even after being freed from the waste.

"Local volunteers are trying their best to release them in the sea. But considering the injuries of these turtles it is unlikely they will survive," he told AFP.

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