‘Ploggers’ find washed-up sea turtle at Seria beach 1

|     Aziz Idris     |

THE carcass of an endangered green sea turtle was found washed ashore on Seria beach last Saturday by a group of ‘ploggers’ while carrying out the weekly activity.

Zafirah Morhsidi together with her close friends sighted the turtle while ‘plogging,’ a portmanteau word meaning picking up rubbish while jogging, the term derived from the Swedish word plocka, which means “to pick”.

Upon inspection of the carcass, Zafirah Morhsidi believed the turtle may have been injured from an accident, as blood was dripping from its swollen head.

Zafirah, an oceanography graduate with an interest in all things nature, explained to the Bulletin the dangers sea turtles face. “Generally, one of the main causes of death of sea turtles is the presence of plastics in their digestive system.

“Sea turtles are susceptible to ingesting rubbish as most plastic bags appear in the water like jellyfish and are thus mistaken as food.”

‘Ploggers’ find washed-up sea turtle at Seria beach 2
The washed-up green sea turtle. – ZAFIRAH MORSHIDI

Local fishermen, meanwhile, said that it isn’t unusual in Brunei for sea turtles to accidentally get hit by boats.

Without a proper post mortem on the turtle, however, the cause of death cannot be confirmed.

The matter has been reported to BruWild – a local wildlife conservation non-governmental organisation – and the country’s wildlife authorities, who will conduct a follow-up investigation.

Members of the public and animal lovers can contact the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism hotline at 8900990 to report such wildlife deaths.

Brunei’s waters is home to three species of sea turtles: green turtles, hawksbill turtles and olive ridley turtles. Green turtles are listed as “red” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and considered endangered and vulnerable.

Up until the day of the turtle sighting, Zafirah has conducted three plogging sessions, each lasting up to an hour on average. A total of 26 large bin bags of rubbish, consisting mostly of plastic bottles, were collected within a 50m stretch of the same beach.

“I hope this activity will continue to run on a weekly basis and that the cleaning area will be expanded,” she added.