Take your rubbish with you

Take your rubbish with you

#Sustainability, #Conservation

Posted on 25th January 2023 by Media Relations

Take your rubbish with you this public holiday to protect our native wildlife.

As Australians are getting ready to celebrate summer’s last public holiday, the teams at Taronga Wildlife Hospitals are urging everyone to reduce their use of plastics and take their rubbish and marine debris with them to protect wildlife. 

“Many of the native animals that we care for at our Wildlife Hospitals have been injured after ingesting or becoming entangled in items that people have left behind,” Taronga Wildlife Hospital Sydney Senior Veterinarian Larry Vogelnest said. 

The Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Sydney currently has three endangered Green Turtles in its care, all brought in by members of the public. 

One of the Green Turtles was brought in on 6 January and an x-ray showed it had swallowed five fishing hooks. Since being nursed by the hospital team, only one hook remains, and the team is hopeful that the turtle will make a full recovery. Another Green Turtle was admitted to the hospital in May when it was only a hatchling, and it had a stomach full of plastics. More than six months later, it is on the road to recovery but still needs ongoing care. 

“We frequently receive turtles that have been washed up along the shore or found floating in the ocean unable to dive, due to a build-up of gas in the stomach from plastic consumption. Marine turtles will often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and sadly, many of them are not able to recover from their injuries,” Larry explained.  

Green Turtle scan showing ingested fishing hooks.
Green Turtle scan showing ingested fishing hooks.
Senior Vet, Larry Vogelnest caring for Green Turtle
Senior Vet, Larry Vogelnest caring for Green Turtle

It’s not just marine animals that are impacted by plastic and marine debris. The hospital recently cared for a Tawny Frogmouth after it became entangled in discarded fishing line in Mosman and a Magpie Lark that was trying to build a nest out of fishing line but kept becoming entangled in it. 

NSW Minister for Environment James Griffin said while many of us are looking forward to enjoying some time in nature this weekend and making the most of summer by camping, fishing, hiking or relaxing on the beach, it’s important to make sure no rubbish is left behind.

“We all need to do our part to ensure we respect and protect our unique wildlife. Everyone can help by minimising the impact of plastic on the environment and simply making sure you’re taking all rubbish with you – especially discarded fishing hooks and fishing line, which we know can be deadly for our marine life,” Mr Griffin said. 

Every year, 1500 animals are admitted to Taronga Wildlife Hospitals, and Taronga is the largest contributor to veterinary services in wildlife treatment and rehabilitation in NSW. 

Taronga is committed to increasing its capacity to assist wildlife in need, with Australia’s unique animals facing more challenges than ever before including bushfires, floods and habitat destruction.

The new Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Sydney – set to open in 2025 – will increase the hospital’s capacity to hold and care for injured wildlife including turtles, koalas and platypus and other native animals by 400 percent. 

The project is a joint philanthropic project between Taronga and the NSW State Government, with the NSW State Government matching philanthropic donations to Taronga up to $40 million. Find out how you can support Taronga’s wildlife conservation efforts here.

Taronga’s Conservation Programs Litter Free Oceans and Litter Free Rivers encourage individuals and businesses to understand their environmental program and offers helpful tips on how you can make more sustainable choices.   

“It’s inevitable that rubbish ends up in our bushland, creeks and oceans. Tossed away in a matter of seconds, items like plastic bottles can take 400 years to break apart. Please remember to always take your rubbish with and dispose of it properly, as it takes just one piece of plastic to impact the life of a turtle,” Taronga’s Guest Learning and Community Impact Manager Belinda Fairbrother said.