Turtle Freed From Plastic Bag At Harper Road Complex Pond In Melbourne

By  //  November 22, 2015

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trapped with the plastic bag

Plastic retail/grocery bags are harmful in countless ways to the environment and for wildlife. This truth became up close and personal recently at the City of Melbourne’s public works complex on Harper Road. (City of Melbourne image)

Plastic retail/grocery bags are harmful in countless ways to the environment and for wildlife. This truth became up close and personal recently at the City of Melbourne’s public works complex on Harper Road. (City of Melbourne image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Plastic retail/grocery bags are harmful in countless ways to the environment and for wildlife.

This truth became up close and personal recently at the City of Melbourne’s public works complex on Harper Road.

On November 5, Melbourne’s Energy Program Manager Julie Foster was walking across an open field to one of the buildings at the complex and passed by the large retention pond known as “Pee Wee’s Pond.”

“I noticed a plastic bag in our pond, moving fairly quickly just underneath the water,” Foster said.

“Upon closer inspection, I found a turtle trapped with the plastic bag wrapped around its body.”

She turned to go find help and saw Mike Whiddon and Tim Fish of the City’s Parks Department driving by with a trailer full of lawn tools in tow.

She waved them down and within moments they used their tools to carefully lift the turtle from the water and quickly removed the plastic bag from around its body. The turtle was freed.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, plastic bag litter is known to be lethal to marine wildlife, killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. Additionally, plastic bags tend to decompose into smaller pieces that can easily enter the food chain and disrupt marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Plastic bags, which take 400 to 1,000 years to biodegrade, are a main source of stormwater pollution and a major maintenance issue in stormwater management systems.

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Retail plastic bags clog pipes and drainage ditches. These bags are the number one “fly away” issue for landfills and they can easily become airborne and blow into adjacent properties.

Further, these bags create a significant litter problem for streets, beaches and the marine environment. It is estimated that plastic makes up 80 percent of the volume of litter on roads, parks and beaches.

Plastics make up 90 percent of floating litter in the ocean and 47 percent of the wind-borne litter escaping from landfills. They also create equipment and operational problems at material recovery facilities, which are recycling centers.

A better alternative to plastic bags is to use reusable bags and biodegradable bags as a substitute.

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