(NEW YORK) — A sea turtle hatchling that washed ashore on a Florida beach and later died had more than 100 pieces of tiny plastic in its intestinal tract, according to a local nature center.
The tiny turtle, which could fit inside the palm of a human’s hand, was still alive when it was found near the Boca Raton coast. It later died due to the large amount of plastic in its body, Kristin Child, the environmental program coordinator for the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, told ABC News. It was likely just a few weeks old, she said.
A photo posted to the center’s Facebook page shows the turtle next to each of the 104 tiny pieces of plastic that were removed during its necropsy.
The nesting season for sea turtles runs from March to October in South Florida, Child said.
Since the start of the season, the nature center has seen about 100 washbacks, dozens of which have died. All of the baby turtles that died had plastic in its intestines and gut, Child said.
“When they come back to shore, it means something’s wrong,” she said.
Biologists and volunteers attempt to help them by giving them fluid to pass the plastic, Child said. Sometimes the plastic will remain in their stomachs, causing the turtles to feel full and stop eating, she said.
“This is a sad reminder that we all need to do our part to keep our oceans plastic free,” a post on the center’s Facebook page read.
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