'What a waste of a life': Dog walker makes 'terrible' discovery at popular lake

A NSW woman’s early morning stroll took an unexpected turn when she found an endangered animal caught inside a trap.

On the morning of January 28, Kanahooka resident Rebecca Daly was walking her dog along the banks of Lake Illawarra, near Wollongong, when she noticed a large creature wedged inside a crab trap.

Ms Daly told Yahoo News Australia that the area is littered with the devices, and because of their size they have the ability to capture larger non-target species.

After dragging the trap to shore, she found a rotting green sea turtle wedged inside.

Photograph of Lake Illawarra and pier. A red circle highlights the crab trap in the distance.
A turtle caught in a floating crab trap on Lake Illawarra. Source: Supplied
Close up of the dead green sea turtle caught in a crab trap. It is floating in the water.
A green sea turtle was found dead inside a crab trap by a woman on her morning walk. Source: Supplied

“People attach flotation devices to the traps and throw them in the water all around the lake,” Ms Daly said.

“I just noticed this one because it had surfaced, so I went over and there was that big dead sea turtle in it.

“I pulled it into shore because I didn’t want it to get lost as a piece of proof that this terrible thing had happened and these crab traps are capable of doing that.”

Finding the dead turtle left Ms Daly feeling powerless and angry, so she rushed home to get her camera in order to photograph it and notify the authorities.

“I thought this poor creature, there’s really no hope for you, just because someone wanted to put a trap out,” she said.

“What a waste of a life.”

Call to ban crab traps amid growing pressure on wildlife

The NSW Department of Primary Industries advised they investigated a report about the turtle and attended the scene, but noted the the individual who set the crab trap hadn’t breached guidelines.

“The turtle was found to be in a poor state of disintegration and was returned to the water,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“The crab trap was a legal recreational crab trap and it was marked in accordance with the requirements of the legislation.

“No further action is required to be undertaken.”

Human activity remains the single greatest threat to green sea turtles, which are protected in most countries and have been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and by CITES.

NSW politician Emma Hurst told Yahoo News Australia she wants to see an immediate nation-wide ban on lobster and crab traps in order to protect marine life.

The Animal Justice Party MLC noted that ash from recent bushfires is polluting waterways, compounding the pressure on a wide range of aquatic species.

Close up of a green sea turtle swimming under water.
Green sea turtles are listed as endangered and protected in most countries. Source: Getty

“This contamination is causing mass fish kills, platypus deaths, and now several species of crayfish are considered to be at crisis point,” Ms Hurst said.

“With all this devastation, why are any of these fishing traps still being used?”

Ms Hurst said she would like to see greater protections for all wildlife which is facing added pressure from ongoing drought and a summer of intense bushfires.

“I’ve been calling for a moratorium on human activities further threatening our wildlife following the fires,” Ms Hurst said.

“If action had been taken, (the turtle’s) death wouldn't have occurred.”

“It's time the government take responsibility and take action.”

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