Turtles and Ocean Trash


“Widget was like a piñata when she first came to the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. But instead of pieces of candy, the loggerhead sea turtle was filled with garbage. Inside her were three shredded balloons —red, green and black. One plastic glove — the kind sandwich makers wear in fast-food joints. A black cap that looked like it belonged on a tire stem, and some duct tape. Widget ate the items, mistaking them for food. The pieces of garbage are now in a glass jar that sits on a counter in the hospital, where only sick turtles are examined. As Widget rested in her own tank, volunteers waited for more junk to flow out of her. Once her system was clean, volunteers would take the jar with them when they talked about pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Debris in the Gulf is only one type of pollution that harms sea turtles and other species. For many humans, the Gulf serves as a gigantic garbage can. For marine species, like Widget, it’s their home, which she returned to in July.”

Written by Dianna Smith for the Naples Daily News (FLA) 10.03.2003 as part of a 15 part series and reposted at


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