A dead turtle with over 100 pieces of plastic in its intestinal tract washed up on a Florida shore this week in what a nature centre calls a “sad reminder” of the need to keep plastic out of the ocean.
The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton shared a powerful photo of a dead turtle lying next to pieces of plastic removed from its body.
“This is a sad reminder that we all need to do our part to keep our oceans plastic free,” their Facebook post reads.
Small pieces of colourful plastic, a piece of red fabric and many more items were eaten by the small washback turtle before its death.
“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,” the post began.
“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.”
The poignant message clearly had an effect on those who keep up with the nature centre, with one Facebook user writing: “I wish we would go back to glass bottles with return deposit… just think of all the plastic that would do away with!”
Another said: “This breaks my heart! Have been trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use for years now.”
One Facebook user touched on how tough it is to reduce plastic use.
“I grew up in a family of 7 and we didn’t have as much trash as my now family of 2 plus 2 small dogs.
“Everything we buy is over packaged. I’m trying, bringing washable mesh bags to the grocery for fresh vegetables and fruit, 5 gallon bottled water fountain that we refill from a kiosk, refuse bags … when shopping but we still generate a lot of trash.”
According to Surfers Against Sewage, an estimated 269,000 tons of macro and microplastics are in the oceans right now.
Animals, if they don’t eat the plastic, can also become entangled in litter.
The organization says one in three fish caught for human consumption contains plastic, meaning humans ingest the material, too.
Overpackaging of consumer products has been partly blamed for the issue of plastic overconsumption.
Last month, a six-year-old girl from Mississauga, Ont., penned a letter to several toy manufacturers and retailers asking them to reduce the amount of plastic packaging on their products.
Khalisah Rahim enjoys her toys but has a problem with how they are packaged.
“I don’t like plastic,” she said.
WATCH BELOW: Young Mississauga girl writes letter to stop plastic pollution
Rahim’s concern over single-use plastic and packaging convinced her to write her letter, which reads in part: “Why is there so much plastic in packaging? It is hurting the Earth.”
One toy retailer, Walmart, responded to Rahim’s letter late Tuesday.
“We welcome ideas from tomorrow’s leaders, like Khalisah, because reducing plastic in Canada won’t happen in isolation,” Walmart said.
“Reducing unnecessary plastic waste and increasing plastic recycling are key priorities for Walmart Canada — and for our customers.”
—With files from Tom Hayes