What Can You Do to Save Sea Turtles?
Each year, around 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean. If we keep going at this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. While there are efforts being made to combat this, such as these shark bracelets that help fund wildlife conservation efforts, more needs to be done. This is not only causing our oceans and beaches to look polluted, but it’s also extremely harmful to the wildlife populations.
One endangered species at great risk from plastic pollution in the ocean is sea turtles. At every stage of their life, sea turtles are encountering plastic that threatens their health and often takes their lives.
Ways Plastic Affects Sea Turtles
While more mature turtles can distinguish between food and trash, younger turtles are less aware and often end up ingesting plastic. Plastic can cause blockages in their stomachs and intestines, which end up killing them or causing serious gastric harm. Each year, over 1000 sea turtles die from ingesting plastic.
- They Can’t Nest Safely
Plastic on beaches is not only unsightly, it’s also confusing to sea turtles who need to nest in the sand. When they see foreign objects, they won’t nest and will instead return to the sea. Being unable to find a safe place to nest is causing turtle populations to decline.
- They Get Lost
It’s a challenge for turtles to lay their eggs on beaches filled with plastic, but that’s only the beginning of their struggles. Once the hatchlings are born, they now need to navigate into the ocean. When there is a lot of plastic in their way, they become disoriented and wind up going in the wrong direction. Sadly, this often leads to their death on the beach.
- Stuck in Plastic
Whether they are swimming in the sea or wandering through trash on a beach trying to nest, turtles are constantly at risk of getting stuck in plastic. From bags to discarded fishing nets, there are endless forms of debris that threaten to trap a turtle or get lodged around their shell.
How You Can Help Sea Turtles
After reading these alarming facts, we all want to do our part to help the sea turtles. Here are some ways you can get involved to help sea turtles facing a pollution crisis.
- Avoid Single-Use Plastic
This first tip is fairly easy to put into practice once you get the hang of it, but it does require some pre-planning. Don’t try to stop using all plastic cold turkey as you won’t be able to keep this up for long. Instead, switch up a few things at a time. It helps to go from room to room, starting in the kitchen. Take stock of everything you have that is single-use plastic and replace these things one by one with eco-friendly, reusable alternatives. For example, ziploc bags can be replaced by Beeswax wrap.
- Organize a Beach Clean Up
If you live near a beach, you’re in a prime position to help out the turtles. Schedule a weekly or monthly beach clean up with your neighbors, friends, and wider community. Together, you can pick up the plastic that otherwise poses a high risk to sea turtles.
Do some research to find great organizations that are working to help sea turtles populations. You can either find one locally or look further afield to volunteer. Typically, volunteering to help sea turtles involves monitoring local populations, doing beach cleanups and advocating on the turtles’ behalf.
- Participate in Conversations
Staying involved in causes you care about means being an active part of ongoing conversations. To make sure you are always in the know, sign up for the newsletters of marine conservation organizations. Participate by spreading the word, either in person or through social media, etc.
Another way of supporting marine conservation efforts is to donate. You can either donate directly, or purchase products whose proceeds either partly or fully go to saving marine life.