SPECIAL MOMENT: Sophie McIntosh-Smith swam with this turtle at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head, recently. Her friend, Jess Davies, captured the moment.
SPECIAL MOMENT: Sophie McIntosh-Smith swam with this turtle at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head, recently. Her friend, Jess Davies, captured the moment.

Magical moment with turtle points to dangers of littering

SOPHIE McIntosh-Smith of East Ballina recently had a unique close encounter with a turtle at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head.

Her friend Jess Davies was able to capture the unique underwater experience, which they enjoyed in water just two metres deep.

But general manager of Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina, Kath Southwell, said the moment was a reminder not to litter as rubbish can affect sea life.

She suspects it is the same turtle local residents have reported as being ill, and she encourages anyone who sees the turtle again to phone Australian Seabird Rescue on 6686 2852.

Mr Southwell said turtles in particular can ingest small pieces of plastic thinking it is food.

That leads to a condition known as "floating syndrome" in which the turtles are unable to dive. They need to dive to eat.

Many of the turtles that come into care at Australian Seabird Rescue suffer from this condition.

"Don't throw any rubbish on the ground because that can go into the stormwater and into the ocean," Ms Southwell said.

"And if you see rubbish on the beach, pick it up. Animals can swallow small pieces of plastic easily."

She said the more we care for wildlife, the more people can enjoy spending time with animals in their natural habitat.

The two young women who swam with the turtle - both local lifesavers - did not get too close to the creature.

They said it was a remarkable and unique experience.


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