Summer lifestyle kills our wildlife

WHILE beach holidays are a carefree time of play and adventure for humans, endangered turtles and birds are the first to feel the impact of our heightened presence in summer along the coast.

Australian Seabird Rescue (ASR) is reminding beachgoers to be mindful about beach rubbish in January, as its end product - ocean-borne phytoplastic - is decimating sea turtle populations.

The broken down pieces of rubbish mimic the appearance of the jellyfish eaten by sea turtles but cause them a slow, agonising death from so-called "float syndrome".

ASR North Coast coordinator Tiffany Leigh said the service was predicting a spike in turtles with float syndrome in March and April as a result of the summer months.

"It's a gradual death because the plastic blocks them up," Ms Leigh said.

"In 2012 a turtle passed away and 317 pieces of plastic were removed from its stomach and guts.

ASR North Coast coordinator Kath Southwell said the region's resident shorebirds also faced danger from unaware 4WD drivers on the beach.

"Pied Oystercatches and Beach Stone-curlews are breeding at this time just above the high tide mark," Ms Southwell said.

"With the shorebirds, a lot of the eggs have hatched now so we've got these gorgeous baby birds trying to hide and stay safe, and they will sit in the 4wd tracks to get shade and feel safe. "A lot of people will drive along the same tracks and not even see them because they are so well camouflaged."

"We ask people to be aware of these animals we share the shoreline with."



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