Heartbreak as rare turtle is found dead off Malta

These heartbreaking images show the moment a dead turtle was recovered from the sea off the Maltese coast.

The rare leatherback turtle was a juvenile, weighing around 190kg.

It was found to have a mass of debris lodged inside its digestive system.

Vets said its intestines were stuffed with plastic bags, rubbish and man-made waste.

The marine animal was spotted floating dead in the sea between Gozo and Comino.

89.7 Bay listener Marcelle Rapa Grima and her husband Reno stayed on their boat next the turtle for almost an hour before the authorities arrived to take it to Cirkewwa.

Marcelle said: ‘Unfortunately this poor creature wasn’t lucky enough for me to find it earlier and possibly save it.

‘It was so heartbreaking seeing it lifeless.’

Scuba diver David Hayler-Montague, who uploaded the harrowing images on social media, said: ‘I’ve posted these pictures to highlight the damage we humans are doing to the sea.

‘Look at the last picture, this is the contents of its stomach. This is what killed it .

‘Please everyone cut down on your plastic use and dispose of it responsibly.

‘If you see a plastic bag, straw, wrapping, anything pick it up and put it in the bin.

‘You really can make a difference and save a turtle’s life.’

The heartbreaking pictures provoked an outcry after being featured on our award-winning Bay Easy page on Facebook.

A spokesman for Nature Trust Malta told 89.7 Bay: ‘Our seas are full of plastic litter which is eaten by fish and so on.

‘Plastic causes a lot of marine animals to die each year, just like this very young and rare turtle.

‘It is sad to see such magnificent creatures die because of some irresponsible people.’

Pictures: David Hayler-Montague