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enter image description here

enter image description here

I found these images on this image aggregator, which states that the photo credit is unknown for both images. The tortoises are implied to have become deformed from growing up inside the rings of plastic.

Are these images authentic, and is it in fact possible for tortoises to become deformed in such a manner?

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There are at least two documented cases where turtles were found with constricting plastic rings around their midsection. One with a six-pack ring, another with a milk bottle safety seal ring:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln7_m8Msrgc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-1lF-sRc3M

There is no evidence that these are hoaxes, nor that some other process caused the deformity. It is reasonable to assume they are solely a result of the plastic rings they were found with.

Peanut

Peanut, the figure 8 turtle, appears to still be alive and is living in the Busch Conservation Area in the Missouri Department of Conservation. This turtle is used in outreach programs to teach students and other groups the dangers of plastics in the environment, and there exist many reports and images of this turtle over the years. It is very unlikely that it is a hoax of any sort:

The story of Peanut the Turtle at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Turtle Cut Free From 6-Pack Rings Is Unstoppable 20 Years Later

  • I really want to downvote this for linking to two unsourced youtube videos without providing any evidence that they're actually credible (or even descriptions of what they are). On the other hand, I don't think the videos are fake, which does mean they answer the question. – Bobson May 29 '15 at 21:43
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    Well, the person who uploaded the Mae West turtle is Anna Cummins, who appears in the video. She worked with Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and continues to work in plastic environmental contamination through her non-profit 5gyres. An about page gives her education and credentials: 5gyres.org/our-crew but I've not been able to find anything other than that video and various pictures to corroborate this story. – Adam Davis May 29 '15 at 22:11
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    @Bobson I did update the answer with a little more evidence lending credibility to Peanut. – Adam Davis May 29 '15 at 22:19
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There has been discussion on the Snopes forums regarding the second image. In the link, they discussed the case of Peanut the tortoise, which appears to be the same tortoise depicted in the first link. Therefore, at least the first image is authentic, and tortoises can certainly be deformed by plastic rings.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources quoting the Missouri Department of Conservation, the first photo is an authentic image.

This is Peanut the turtle—Peanut the red-eared slider, to be exact. She was found in 1993 in Missouri and taken to a zoo in St. Louis where the six-pack ring was removed.

Today she is in the care of the Missouri Department of Conservation, and is doing well.

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    @Noodlemanny In what way doesn't it answer: is it because this is an answer about a turtle instead of about a tortoise? – ChrisW May 29 '15 at 16:40
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    A direct example of it happening is absolutely a direct answer. – Slacklord the Terrible May 29 '15 at 16:41
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    A statement upfront like “Yes, turtles can: the first picture is definitely authentic,” would improve this answer, I think. Whether or not the second picture is authentic (and it’s useful to discuss whether or not it is), the answer to the overall question is a yes based on the first one. – KRyan May 29 '15 at 16:59
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    @RossPresser The link provided explains that the deformation is in fact caused by the plastic ring. I would consider it a sufficiently reputable source. – March Ho May 29 '15 at 17:06
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    @RossPresser The mechanism is likely similar to what causes deformations with foot binding – Izkata May 29 '15 at 21:12

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