This baby sea turtle was brought to Sea Life Sunshine Coast but was not able to be saved after consuming plastic. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast
This baby sea turtle was brought to Sea Life Sunshine Coast but was not able to be saved after consuming plastic. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast

Sick, dying baby turtles wash up on Coast beaches

Residents are being urged to be on the lookout for baby turtles washing up on Coast beaches due to exhaustion and plastic consumption as hatching season draws to an end.

Sea Life Sunshine Coast's Kate Willson said four loggerhead hatchlings had been brought to the aquarium's turtle rehabilitation centre in the 2020/21 nesting season, but only two had survived.

Pesto, a recently hatched loggerhead turtle, was taken to the facility in early March after being found in Castaways Beach.

But he was unable to be saved.

Hatchling Pesto was found on Castaways Beach near Noosa but died after consuming microplastics. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast
Hatchling Pesto was found on Castaways Beach near Noosa but died after consuming microplastics. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast

"Pesto was covered in algae, very lethargic and poor body condition," a Facebook post on the aquarium's page said.

"Sadly Pesto passed away after a few days.

The animal care team completed a necropsy of Pesto and found many tiny pieces of microplastics.

Poor Pesto was not the only victim.

Several pieces of microplastic were found inside the dead hatchling. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast.
Several pieces of microplastic were found inside the dead hatchling. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast.

Ms Willson said the centre was rehabilitating another hatchling which had also consumed microplastics.

"It is currently feeding and actively swimming, which are good signs so far," she said.

She said microplastics were a huge problem for marine life who consumed them and then couldn't pass them.

"Plastic pollution has a harmful effect on sea creatures," she said.

"Turtles are particularly susceptible as they often mistake plastic for food, resulting in intestinal blockages, starvation and unnatural buoyancy.

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On top of plastic consumption, Ms Willson said the poor weather conditions on Coast beaches recently led to baby turtles becoming exhausted.

Ms Willson said three subadult turtles were also being rehabilitated after they recently washed up on the Coast. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast
Ms Willson said three subadult turtles were also being rehabilitated after they recently washed up on the Coast. Picture: Sea Life Sunshine Coast

"We had big ocean swells with the first two that came in so we think exhaustion was the main cause.

"One went back to the ocean and the other died shortly after arrival."

"We also have three subadults who were all beach washed and floating but we haven't found plastics in them.

"They are also progressing well."

Recently another 20 turtle hatchlings were found dead north of the Coast at Hervey Bay after being killed by two dogs.

Turtle Research and Conservation volunteer Lesley Bradley said it was critical to protect turtle hatchlings as only one in 1000 returned to lay eggs for the next generation.

Ms Willson said anybody who came across a dead or stranded sea turtle should call the Department of Environment and Science on 1300 130 372.


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