A dying baby turtle that washed up on a beach in Florida had 104 pieces of plastic in its stomach.

Experts say it was one of just dozens of young turtles that have starved to death in the area after eating microplastics in the sea this year.

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Centre posted a photograph on Facebook of the loggerhead sea turtle and the fragments of plastic found in its stomach after it died.

Emily Mirowski, a turtle rehabilitation assistant, told CNN that the turtle, which was small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, was weak and emaciated.

“It was really heartbreaking. But it’s something we’ve seen for several years and we’re just glad people are finally seeing this image, and hopefully it’s raising awareness.”

When babies hatch between March and October each year, they head towards floating seaweed called sargassum, where they live for their first few years.

“The issue is that with all the plastic in the oceans, that’s where the plastic sticks,” Ms Mirowski said. “All the microplastics stick to the seaweed, and it looks like food to the baby turtles.”

The plastic in their stomachs makes turtles feel full, so they don’t eat or receive the nutrition they need to survive.