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Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Boca Raton hope washback turtle serves as reminder for others to reduce use of plastics

Queen Elizabeth found with more than 50 pieces of plastics in system
Queen Elizabeth at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
Posted at 4:21 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 16:24:04-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A 2-pound hawksbill sea turtle named Queen Elizabeth is recovering at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.

"She has passed over 50 pieces of plastic so far," rehabilitation assistant Caitlin Bovery said. "That is a low number for how much we see in our washback turtles sometimes."

Bovery said the washback turtles are usually hatchlings that get washed back to shore. She said when the really sick ones arrive at Gumbo Limbo, it's a similar issue.

"Almost 100% of those have plastics in their systems," Bovery said.

Bovery showed WPTV just some of the plastic found in Queen Elizabeth.

Caitlin Bovery from Gumbo Limbo Nature Center shows plastics found in Queen Elizabeth
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center rehabilitation assistant Caitlin Bovery shows WPTV some of the plastics found in Queen Elizabeth.

"There's everything from soft pliant pieces to really hard shards that can cause some major (gastrointestinal) damage," Bovery said.

Bovery said this turtle is a bit older than a typical washback. Some even come to Gumbo Limbo with hundreds of pieces in their stomachs.

"We're starting to see it more and more in our older patients," Bovery said.

Lindsey Nieratka is Boca Raton's sustainability manager. She and the city are promoting a sustainable summer.

The goal is to help educate people to reduce plastic use in the month of July.

plastic pieces found in washback turtles at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
These are some of the plastic pieces found in washback turtles that arrived at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.

"We are hosting a beach cleanup this Saturday," Nieratka said.

Bovery said it's the little changes that can help "make a big difference."

She said Queen Elizabeth is one of the lucky ones and should make a full recovery.