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Loss of Baby Turtle Hatchling a Sad Reminder of Effect of Plastic Pollution In Our Oceans

  • Friday 4th March 2022
  • turtle, turtles, sea life trust

Kiwi And Plastics

The passing of baby rescue turtle Kiwi is a stark reminder of the real-world impacts of plastic pollution, especially microplastics, in our oceans ahead of Clean Up Australia Day (Sunday 6 March).

Kiwi, a baby green sea turtle estimated to be approximately three months old, was found last week by a member of the public, beach washed on Sunrise Beach laying amongst a pile of plastic rubbish on the sand. Kiwi was brought to the safety of SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium, where glucose and fluids were administered to combat Kiwi’s weak and lethargic state.

After three days of rehabilitation Kiwi began to eat, however, with this came the realisation that Kiwi had ingested a number of microplastic pieces which began passing through the turtle’s digestive system. Tragically, after six days in care, little Kiwi passed away, with the cause of death considered to be internal damage due to microplastic ingestion.

SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium Vet Nurse Brittany Attwood explains “turtle hatchlings are very susceptible to ingesting microplastics at their young age as they cannot dive into the depths of the ocean to hunt for food as their parents do. Hatchlings can often mistake pieces of microplastic for food, which as we have seen in the case of Kiwi, can have deadly consequences.”

CSIRO research from 2020 suggests that there are 14 million tonnes of microplastics on the sea floor globally, which is more than double the amount of plastic pollution estimated to be on the ocean’s surface.

With Clean Up Australia Day this Sunday 6 March, SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast in partnership with the SEA LIFE Trust, is encouraging all Australians to rethink their use of single-use plastics, find ways to reduce their waste by reusing what they already have, and ensuring that if they plastic litter on the beach or streets, to pick it up and dispose of it thoughtfully.