A photo of a rescued turtle from waters in Northern NSW has highlighted a disturbing problem facing our ocean wildlife.
The green sea turtle, nicknamed Rainbow, was rescued on New Year’s Day at Bream Hole in Lennox Head after a close encounter with a shark left her with injuries.
Byron Bay Wildlife helped the turtle following the attack but had to amputate one of her rear flippers.
However, the shark attack wasn’t Rainbow’s only worry. During the turtle's recovery, her carer's were shocked by what was hiding inside the animal.
Australian Seabird Rescue shared a photo of the turtle on Facebook revealing Rainbow “had a stomach full of plastic” which she has slowly been passing.
“Over a six-week period Rainbow had passed the most amount of plastic we have ever seen a turtle in our care,” it wrote.
“It’s actually incredible that she is still with us. Just a few pieces of this plastic could severely impact her health.
“Despite everything Rainbow has been through she is incredibly strong and has adapted well to having just three flippers.”
The rescue group added that the animal's ordeal should come as a reminder for people to be careful with plastic usage and to dispose of rubbish properly.
People 'don't realise' the harm of plastic
On Facebook, people were horrified by the contents of the turtle's stomach.
"So many people don't realise the harm plastic bags or plastic anything really can do," one woman wrote.
Another commented that it's "unbelievable" the turtle survived after ingesting all that rubbish.
"A true poster girl for making people aware of what impact they are having on our environment," the woman wrote.
Another Facebook user called the turtle a "poor beautiful soul".
More than eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The plastic makes up for 80 per cent of ocean debris which causes severe injury and death to marine life.
Green sea turtles are listed as vulnerable by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
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