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Croc dies from plastic bags

AFP

Pollution

crocodile

Credit: EveryStockPhoto

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SYDNEY: A crocodile, which was captured after menacing tourist beaches near Australia's World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, has died from eating too many plastic bags, officials said.

Queensland's Environmental Protection Agency announced Sunday that the crocodile died a day after it was captured near Magnetic Island.

The agency said 25 plastic shopping and garbage bags had been found inside the animal, along with a plastic wine cooler bag and a rubber float.

"Because the material had compacted solidly in its stomach it was unable to digest food," officials said in a statement, adding that no animal would have survived with that much plastic compressed into its gut.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said it was surprised that the 3.5 metre crocodile had swallowed enough plastic bags - apparently over a long period of time - to kill it.

"I didn't know it was a problem for crocodiles specifically, you tend to hear it more as a problem for turtles," the authority's chairman Russell Reicheldt told the ABC on Monday.

"But it... reinforces our general view that the amount of marine debris in the ocean is too much and it's damaging wildlife."

The crocodile was originally transferred from remote Cape York, near the northernmost point of Australia's east coast, some 1,000 kilometres south to near the populated area of Townsville in a satellite tracking program.

But the giant reptile swam north and was seen around Magnetic Island, a tourist haven, where local dive operators complained it drove away business.

The relocation program is now under review.