All that remains of Lefty, the Loggerhead turtle butchered Near Broken Head. Photo N Oliver/NPWS
Byron Bay’s most famous turtle, dubbed Lefty, has been killed by an apparent boat strike and his shell has been stolen.
Authorities are appealing for information after the shell-less body of the large loggerhead turtle was found washed ashore on Seven Mile Beach, south of Broken Head, last Monday.
A graphic photo of Lefty’s awful fate can be seen by clicking to read the full story.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Byron coast manager Sue Walker said the turtle, which is listed as a threatened species in New South Wales, had been cut up and the shell removed probably as a souvenir.
‘Affectionately known as Lefty due to a missing left flipper, he was a regular feature for many divers during dives around Byron Bay’, Ms Walker said.
‘Turtles are protected by law and it is an offence to harm them or take parts such as the shell’, she said.
‘Possession of turtle shells is strictly controlled as international trade has been identified as one of the threats to the species.
‘Licences are restricted to educational institutions and museums and severe penalties including gaol terms apply to buying, selling or possessing threatened species or their parts.
‘The shell may have been removed in ignorance of the law and we are offering the offenders the opportunity to do the right thing and return the remains of the turtle.
‘If anyone has any information regarding this incident they are urged to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Byron Bay, telephone 6620 9300. All information will be treated confidentially,’ Ms Walker said.
‘Loggerhead turtles are one of five species of turtles recorded in NSW’, she said
‘Threats to their survival include over-fishing in most tropical countries, habitat damage and loss, predation of eggs and hatchlings by foxes, pigs, dogs and other predators, pollution and litter.
‘Many marine turtles feed on jellyfish. Discarded plastic bags, which can resemble jellyfish, are responsible for many turtle deaths.
‘An easy way you can help turtles is minimising use of plastic bags and disposing of them properly.
‘The NPWS is also keen to hear from members of the community who discover any turtle nesting, or nests, and ask that these nests remain undisturbed.’