The sea turtle’s death

We went to Desaru during the school holidays. Just a couple of days to relax before the next term begins for the girls. We stayed at a resort on the beach, but the waves were to violent to do any swimming in the sea.

I walked along the beach just before sunset one day and a few hundred meters down the shore from the resort I saw a monitor lizard walking up the beach towards the jungle. He was a bit far off but I took my phone out to video him as I walked closer. As I was watching him, still a hundred meters away I notice a large shape on the beach.

It wasn’t a rock; there are lots of jagged black rocks out in the surf alone Desaru beach but this was too round. In the shadows it took me a few moments to figure out what it was. It was a sea turtle. A big one. A few seconds later I figured out the only reason a monitor lizard would be there was it must be dead. The tide was combing in and I guess the lizard didn’t want to eat in the surf.

As I got closer I could see how bloated the creature was. I was surprised it didn’t smell. I was up wind but even up close, where I could see it was missing its eyes and the softer skin of it’s face was mostly gone, eaten or rotted off, I didn’t smell it. I got a few whiffs of it when I moved down wind, but it wasn’t that smelly.

I wonder what killed it. There was no obvious thing. I’m not an expert but there was no holes —other than where the eyes and one fin had been eaten. I wonder if we killed it? Did it eat one too many plastic bags? Maybe it died of old age, it was very large, but, maybe I’m too pessimistic I suspect humans until proven otherwise. The beach was littered with bottles and other bits of plastic, covered in small clam like creatures. This is on a beach at a resort that is raked every morning. There was a shoe, and further down the beach an insole. I wonder if they go together? Humans suck. And all of this trash has been in the past century. We are disgusting creatures who can’t control ourselves.

It is changing, slowly. Slower than a glacier moves, and much slower than all the glaciers are melting because of us. Singapore, which should be able to be way out front on such things can’t even get there. Almost all take away containers are plastic, delivery makes it worse, everything is wrapped in plastic and then bagged in plastic and comes with plastic utensils and straws and little plastic packets of condiments you won’t use. Even when you chose the “don’t need cutlery” they sometimes include it. Even if they do leave it out they will throw in more ketchup and chili than you could use. If you get take out from many food stalls you get styrofoam. Something McDonalds stopped using when I was a kid is still the standard for many takeout places in Singapore.

The Singapore government could outlaw this, but I guess it would inconvenience people, maybe they would vote against the government, and for sure there are a number of local companies that make all this plastic —I see their trucks on the road sometimes, with pictures of all the plastics and saying things like “manufacturer of all kinds of plastic food containers!”. Yea, the government should help them move on to other work and cancel the plastic. I remember more than a decade ago being in Taiwan and seeing that all the takeout was in cardboard boxed that were waxed to resist the liquids at least long enough to get home and eat. How come Taiwan can do it and Singapore cannot? Singapore can do better, and should. Many stores have started to charge for plastic bags but few people are carrying their own bags regularly or reusable food containers. For a place were tiffins were once ubiquitous it’s sad, everything is double and triple packed in single use plastic today.