On September 1st of this year, Mark Collins a meteorologist for the Northeast Florida coast reported that several dozen sea turtle hatchlings found along NE Florida beaches are eating plastic and turning up dead. According to the report, bits of plastic saturating the ocean have made it into the diets of 92% of the turtles surveyed between Nassau and Flagler counties.
The pollution is especially deadly for post hatchlings who spend their formative months floating along seaweed mats just offshore. The discovery came after 396 emaciated post hatchlings were washed ashore and were brought to the UF Whitney Lab’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital during the 2016 – 2017 nesting seasons. Most were treated and released but 103 died shortly after being taken to the hospital.
Necropsies performed on the 42 post-hatchlings revealed on average 50 pieces of plastic per hatchling. Plastic found in the GI tract reduces the ability for the post hatchlings to ingest and efficiently digest natural food items during a critical part of their young turtle’s life.
This is an alarming discovery since plastic is the most common type of marine debris globally. In Marco Island, small pieces of plastic are the most collected trash debris during monthly clean-ups. Most of the plastic “chokeables” (small pieces) found on the beach are brought to the beach by humans.
KUDOS to JW Marriott for sponsoring a beach-wide clean-up on the morning of September 7th. Most of the beach vendors started the clean-up at 7 AM before they set up the chairs. Thanks to Marco Island Watersports and Regency Watersports and to all the morning volunteers.
KUDOS to all the volunteers who showed up at South Beach on September 8th for an evening clean-up along with students from Marco Island Academy. With dark clouds and a looming thunderstorm, volunteers managed to stay for an hour and picked up CORONA Beer Bottle Caps “too numerous to count.” Glass is prohibited on Marco’s Beaches with a fine of $200.