‘Stop marine pollution’: SAAMBR pleads after KZN turtle dies

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The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) has urged humans to work towards a plastic free ocean after inorganic materials were found in a dead turtle. 

The young green turtle named Jellybean, was admitted to uShaka Sea World on 12 January 2022 after stranding on a beach at Kosi Bay, in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. 

TURTLE DIES AFTER FOREIGN OBJECTS FOUND IN HER STOMACH

Jellybean was transported from Kosi Bay to Durban. On arrival, Jellybean was lethargic and unable to feed on her own. Both her front flippers had been partially amputated in a suspected encounter with a predator. 

Various diagnostics (radiographs, ultrasounds and blood tests) were performed and although her prognosis was poor, we tried our best to assist her to recover by administering fluids and offering her food through a tube.   

The organisation said the past two weeks became increasingly difficult for Jellybean and after a short but very brave battle, she passed away peacefully on Friday 4th February.  

The veterinary team performed a necropsy which revealed various inorganic objects (nylon, rope and plastic) in her gut which we suspect caused an impaction.  The foreign objects consisted of a plastic packet, a piece of rope, nylon thread and various other foreign objects which weighed 3.5g.

Waste found in Jellybean’s stomach. Photo: SAAMBR

“The impaction was so severe that it resulted in intestinal perforation with associated infection. In light of these findings, one could assume that the turtle became compromised after ingesting the plastic and other foreign material.” 

UShaka Sea World veterinarian, Dr Francois Lampen

Lampen added that this was a stark reminder of the impact pollution has on the marine environment and that “plastic will move up the food chain, causing ever increasing pathology the higher up it goes.”  

Unfortunately turtles and other marine animals often ingest pieces of plastic which they mistake as food. SAAMBR said although Jellybean’s story does not have a happy ending, they hope her story encourages humans to continue working towards a plastic free ocean.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme report, South Africa discharges between 90 000 and 250 000 tonnes of rubbish into the ocean every year. This is equivalent to five trucks dumping garbage in the sea every hour. Globally more than four million tonnes of waste lands up in oceans. 

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