Florida: A baby turtle that got washed up in Boca Raton in Florida died after eating as many as 104 pieces of plastic, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Centre informed.
The heartbreaking picture of the dead turtle posted by Gumbo Limbo Nature Centre in Florida on Facebook went viral on social media. In the picture, the tiny loggerhead sea turtle is lying dead next to the fragments of plastic that cost it its life, highlighting the extent of pollution caused by plastic in our water bodies.
According to Gumbo Limbo, this time of year is called “washback” season; it’s when recently hatched turtles start to wash back up along the coast.
Emily Mirowski, a sea turtle rehabilitation assistant at the centre, examined the turtle before it died.
"It was weak and emaciated. I could just tell it wasn't doing well," Mirowski told CNN.
After it died, Mirowski dissected the turtle and found its stomach was full of plastic, ranging from balloons to bottle labels, informed CNN.
"It was really heartbreaking," Mirowski said. "But it's something we've seen for several years and we're just glad people are finally seeing this image and hopefully it's raising awareness."
According to Mirowski, dozens of washbacks dropped off at the centre have already died since washback season started. Every single one of those turtles had ingested plastic.
"The issue is that with all the plastic in the oceans, that's where the plastic sticks," Mirowski said. " All the microplastics stick to the seaweed, and it looks like food to the baby turtles."
Having plastic in their bellies gives turtles the feeling that they're full, Mirowski said. As a result, they don't eat or receive the proper nutrition they need to survive. By the time the turtles are found and dropped off at the centre, they're weak and emaciated.
Mirowski says the problem won't end until people stop buying plastics and disposing of them improperly.