Baby turtles hatch in Phang Nga, die from garbage in Chon Buri

While Saturday marked the season’s first hatching of baby turtles around Phuket, 11 baby sea turtles found in Chon Buri in September have died from eating garbage.

On the night of January 14, some 64 baby leatherback turtles successfully hatched and crawled into the sea at Bang Kwan Beach in Khok Kloi, Phang Nga. This marks the first group of baby turtles to make their way to the sea this season.

The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) reported that wildlife officers keeping watch over the nest spotted the sand above it collapsing the previous day. The officers expected baby turtles to break through the sand, but as much as they waited, it didn’t happen. Finally, around midnight the marine officials decided to open the nest by removing some of the sand.

It was then they spotted the problem – large and fuzzy roots of beachside plants that were blocking the baby turtles from crawling to freedom. Once cleared, 64 of the young leatherback turtles were healthy enough to go straight to the sea. Four more turtles were not healthy and were under veterinary care, one was found dead and 37 eggs didn’t develop.

The turtles hatched about two months after the eggs were laid by their mother on November 17, perfectly on schedule for a 50 to 60-day incubation period. This was the first turtle nest found on the beaches in the area during the current turtle egg-laying season. A second was found on November 30, so more baby sea turtles are expected soon.

Officials moved all the eggs to a safer spot since the nest was in a beach area with a lot of potentially damaging surf. The new nest was protected by a fence along with thermometers and CCTV cameras to watch and ensure safety during the incubation process.

Meanwhile, across the country in Chon Buri province, 11 baby turtles that were found washed ashore in Sattahip last September, and had ingested garbage, did not survive. Veterinarians found garbage, including plastic, in the stomachs of every baby turtle and were unable to save them. The turtles were weak when they were found and refused to eat, leading to their deaths.

They began to die a month after their rescue, with some lasting as long as three months before succumbing. Experts say it was only a small amount of garbage in their stomachs, but would have been extremely painful and, in the end, deadly.

Officials suspect that the turtles were washed into the sea from Ko Khram or Ko Lan in Chon Buri, which are known nesting grounds for sea turtles. Baby turtles hide in sea debris floating in currents on the surface because they cannot dive to avoid predators.

Officials stress that the deaths of these turtles illustrate the dangers posed by garbage, particularly plastic and discarded fishing nets. They urged people to stop dumping garbage into the sea or waterways that flow into it.

Phuket News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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