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09 Feb 2022

Pollution, shame and blame as plastic, rope, nylon and other foreign objects were found in a green turtle’s gut

Thobeka Ngema (Daily New: IOL) Picture: Ushaka/SeaWorld. The veterinary team performed a necropsy which revealed various inorganic objects (nylon, rope and plastic) in her gut.

DURBAN – The death of a young green turtle named Jellybean ignited the conversation about pollution after plastic, rope, nylon and other foreign objects were found in the turtle’s gut. Jellybean had been admitted to uShaka Sea World on January 12, 2022, after stranding on a beach at Kosi Bay, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Ann Kunz of uShaka Sea World said Jellybean was transported from Kosi Bay to Durban by KZN Wildlife and members of the KZN Marine Stranding Network.

“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,” Kunz said.

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

Kunz said the last two weeks became difficult for Jellybean and after a short but very brave battle, she died peacefully last Friday.

“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 3.5 g,” Kunz said.

The foreign objects consisted of a plastic packet, a piece of rope, nylon thread and various other foreign objects which weighed 3.5g. Picture: uShaka Sea World

uShaka Sea World veterinarian Dr Francois Lampen said: “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.”

He said it was a stark reminder of the impact pollution had on the marine environment and that “plastic will move up the food chain, causing ever-increasing pathology the higher up it goes”.

Kunz added that unfortunately turtles and other marine animals often ingest pieces of plastic which they mistake as food.

“Although Jellybean’s story does not have a happy ending, we hope her story encourages humans to continue working towards a plastic free ocean.”

Those who came across Jellybean’s post commented about recycling, the impacts of plastic pollution, who was to blame and how shameful littering was.

Lucille Gillitt said: “Poor Jellybean. May this be the reminder we all need to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Sue Hefferman Laubscher said: “How careless are we as the higher life form?”

Jennie Poole said: “We are destroying our earth.”

Debbie King thanked uShaka Sea World for helping Jellybean.

“Please make a display with the plastic for the public to read about and hopefully visiting schools to educate all humans about what we are doing to the planet and animals. May you be blessed as you continue your vital work along our seashores.”

Bruce Gedye said: “If you walk the seashore anywhere, looking at what washes up, it becomes clear how the human race is committing its own suicide … ”

Rosalie Busse said she did not think pollution would ever end because most people did not care. “Empty plastics are thrown out of car and taxi windows wherever they are! Very sad and horrific for our sea life. There was a need to educate children at school so they can educate their parents.”

Andrew McLean said: “Shows the damage we all contribute to … sad outcome but something I hope we all learn from.”