Turtle hatchling’s recovery is indicative of plastic crisis

Posted by Imogen Searra on 16 July 2020

The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation marked their 32nd turtle hatchling arrival brought in to the rehab facility for 2020.

The non-profit partner of the Two Oceans Aquarium has documented the hard work that it takes to rehabilitate a hatchling.

A member of the public rescued the animal from Hermanus and it arrived with a healthy weight. The fact that the animal was found stranded, though, indicted to the team that something was wrong.

In a Facebook post, the foundation outlined the hatchling’s journey to recovery.

‘This is hatchling #32 for 2020. She arrived at our turtle rehabilitation centre 1 July, after a member of the public found her in Hermanus. We are calling her a she, however it is too early to tell. The gender of a turtle can only be determined once they are much older, with an ultrasound scan,’ said the NPO.

‘Hatchling #32 arrived weighing a healthy 163g, however there was clearly some issue with her, since she was found stranded. This issue became apparent when our turtle rehab team found a bunch of small plastic pieces in her rehab pool. ‘

Hatchling 32 and the plastic particles in her tank. Image credit: Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation

‘Pictured are all of the pieces that #32 pooped out, weighing a total of 0,3 g. Since this picture was taken, she has pooped out even more. She is a lucky little turtle, as many are not able to pass plastic pieces like these, especially when they have sharp edges that can cause internal damage.’

The image shows just how dangerous plastic waste is for the ocean and its inhabitants. According to the IUCN, ‘At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and deaths.’

Over 300 million tons of plastic is produced annually. This toxic material is detrimental to the environment, animals and of course to human beings.

In a bid to reduce plastic waste from entering the environment, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is pleading to the public to cut one item of single-use plastic out of your life.

Read: Ways to live plastic-free this July

Katja Laingui, the Education Operations Manager of the foundation, spoke to Getaway¬†about 32’s recovery. ‘Little hatchling #32 is doing great at the moment and is eating like a champ. We are always very happy when a turtle has a good appetite, as this usually means that they are recovering well. We hope that the last pieces of plastic, that she pooped out, will be the end of it. Little #32 will, hopefully, be released back into the ocean with all of our other turtle rehabilitation residents at the end of this year. What can you do to help these little turtles have a fighting chance in the ocean? Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink the plastic that you use everyday.’

Also read: Largest ocean clean up hauls in 103 tons of waste

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