It’s a tragedy playing out with increasing frequency, sea creatures washing up ashore, dead or weak and starved, their bellies jammed with plastic waste.
The latest victim, a baby loggerhead sea turtle, washed ashore in Boca Rotan, Florida. Conservationists were unable to save the tiny turtle and found 104 pieces of plastic in its belly. Dozens of turtles brought to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center of Boca Raton die, plastic waste being the main culprit.
The tiny turtle’s sad fate was shared on by the conservation center, with a photo posted on its Facebook page earlier this week, showing the dead turtle and all the pieces of plastic extracted from its intestinal tract, including bottle labels, balloons and multiple bits and pieces plastic waste.
According to the center this time of year is known as “washback season,” when turtle hatch-lings who successfully made it out to the floating seaweed or sargassum mats in the Gulf Stream start returning along the coastline.
“It was weak and emaciated. I could just tell it wasn’t doing well.
It was really heartbreaking … 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.”
Now an incredibly occurrence with 100 percent of washback turtles with plastic in their stomachs don’t survive.
Mirowski said that since this year’s washback season began, dozens of turtles brought to the center’s rehabilitation center have died, plastic being the main culprit.
The Gumbo Limbo rehabilitation team is working hard to save other washback turtles in the hope of ultimately rehabilitating and releasing them, according to local WPTV.
Rehabilitation coordinator Whitney Crowder said:
“It is a slow waiting game and unfortunately, a lot of them don’t make it.”
Microplastics have come under scrutiny from conservationists and scientists in recent years having been found everywhere, such as the highest mountain peaks to the rivers and deepest ocean, ending up not only in the stomachs of various marine organisms but in other humans and animals via the food chain and waterways.
Defined as fragments of plastic smaller than 5mm in length, about the size of a sesame seed, microplastics are often so small that scientists can’t even sample or study them. This dye and chemical-ridden pollutant poses a serious danger that can’t be understated.
The scourge of plastic pollution in our oceans is shocking and estimated at a 100 million tons, according to the United Nations. Between 80 and 90 percent coming from land-based sources. According to a report prepared for the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by 2050 it is estimated that plastic waste in the ocean will outweigh all fish.
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