Marine scientists have revealed that dead baby turtles found washed up on Cape beaches were most likely killed by plastic.
The scientists from the South African Shark Conservancy dissected loggerhead hatchlings found along the Overstrand coastline last week.
Three turtles were found dead while around 20 live turtles were found on Grotto Beach, Die Platt, Kamabaai and Voelklip in Hermanus in April.
Natalia Drobniewska, the centre’s Operations Manager said “We found micro-plastics, Styrofoam balls, small pieces of plastic wrappers,”
“We weren’t surprised at all, as plastic pollution is becoming a serious problem affecting marine life,” she added.
The surviving hatchlings were transported to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, where they are being cared for in the facility’s turtle rehabilitation centre.
Talitha Noble, who runs the rehab centre, said plastic ingestion is a very common and deadly problem.
“A lot of our turtles coming in have plastic in them… Upon post-mortem, the ones that have died – most of them have also had varying amounts of micro plastic inside of them…”
Aquarium spokesperson Renée Leeuwner explained that even those which survive plastic ingestion can incur terrible injuries.