Baby Turtle Dead After Ingesting 104 Pieces Of Plastic

In yet another heartbreaking example of why the world needs to reduce plastics usage and regulate the plastics industry in an effort to clean up our oceans, a baby turtle in Boca Raton, Florida tragically suffered and died after ingesting 104 pieces of plastic.

The baby sea turtle washed up onshore and was quickly transported to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center for emergency care. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done.

The baby turtle had mistaken plastic pieces as food, just like many marine animals do, and ingested so many that it was not getting the nutrition it needed. The plastic soon caused the turtle to go into septic shock and it died.

“It was weak and emaciated. I could just tell it wasn’t doing well,” sea turtle rehabilitation assistant Emily Mirowski told CNN.

Center personnel performed a necropsy and discovered to their horror that the baby turtle had a stomach full of plastic.

“As she cut into it, it was just like, whoa,” rehabilitation coordinator Whitney Crowder said. “Every time she cut through there was more plastic coming out of its stomach.”

They organized the plastic pieces next to the turtle’s body and took a photograph to share on social media in an effort to raise awareness about the plastics crisis and what it is doing to innocent animals.

“It’s washback season at Gumbo Limbo and weak, tiny turtles are washing up along the coastline needing our help,” the center wrote on Facebook. “Unfortunately, not every washback survives. 100% of our washbacks that didn’t make it had plastic in their intestinal tracts. This turtle, which would fit in the palm of your hand, had eaten 104 pieces of plastic. This is a sad reminder that we all need to do our part to keep our oceans plastic-free.”

“Yes, all of this plastic came from one tiny turtle,” the center added in a comment. “The plastic plugs them up and causes them to go into septic shock. We perform necropsies on all turtles that die in our care which is how we determine the cause of death. Plastic pollution is the sad world we live in now. We must do better.”

Upon hatching on the beach, baby sea turtles make a beeline to the ocean in order to swim out to sea to find a patch of sargassum, a seaweed that provides food and refuge for the turtles until they are older and strong enough to make it on their own.

But because there is so much plastic waste in the oceans, even in the most remote places on Earth, the plastic is sticking to the seaweed and ends up being eaten by the turtles and other creatures.

“The issue is that with all the plastic in the oceans, that’s where the plastic sticks,” Mirowski explained. ” All the microplastics stick to the seaweed, and it looks like food to the baby turtles.”

Sadly, more turtles are dying because of this plastic waste.

“Just this morning, we have 60 washback turtles sitting in our hatchling tank. Six have died already,” Crowder said.

Sea turtles are among the marine animals that humans adore the most. But we are not doing enough to save them so that future generations can enjoy them. Clearly, plastics are killing marine animals. This poor baby turtle is proof of that. And it’s long past time we did something about it so that these kinds of deaths no longer happen.

Featured Image: Facebook

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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