Baby turtle found with 104 pieces of plastic in its stomach

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center shared a photo of the sea turtle and multiple pieces of the plastic they were able to extract from its stomach on Facebook.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
October 6, 2019 03:52
2 minute read.
Hawksbill sea turtle.

The Hawksbill sea turtle.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A baby turtle washed up on a Florida beach on Tuesday and died shortly thereafter. 104 pieces of plastic were found in its stomach post-mortem. 

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center shared a photo of the sea turtle and of the multiple pieces of the plastic they were able to extract from its stomach on Facebook. The photo quickly went viral and has been shared over 3,000 times. 

The post read, "Not such a happy #TurtleTuesday this week. It's washback season at Gumbo Limbo and weak, tiny turtles are washing up along the coastline needing our help. 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."



Emily Mirowski, one of the sea turtle rehabilitation assistants at the center, examined the turtle before it died and also performed the autopsy where she found over 100 pieces of plastic ranging from balloons to bottle labels. In an interview with CNN she said, "It was weak and emaciated. I could just tell it wasn't doing well." 

This is not an uncommon occurence. The issue of malnutrition caused by plastic is so common that the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center has put out a cooler in front of the office for people to safely drop off turtles for rehabilitation.  

The center said that while some turtles are able to survive ingesting certain amounts of plastic, many have already died since washback - turtles that have made it to the ocean and the Gulf Stream for a few weeks before being washed back ashore - season has begun. 

Turtles often think the plastic stuck on seaweed is food and when they ingest it, their brain thinks they are full so they're not getting the nutrients they need to survive. 

"We give them a small amount of fluids everyday to get them hydrated," Mirowski said. "Then we hope they'll pass the plastic naturally. The important thing is getting them hydrated to get their appetite back."

"We have to reduce plastic use as much as possible," she said. "Not just recycling, but eliminating plastic out of daily use. Every piece of plastic that's ever been made is still out there. it never goes away, it just breaks down to smaller pieces."


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