These Gentle Giants Need Your Help
In light of recent events, sea turtles have felt the wrath of human impacts the most. Impacts that if humans mitigate, can help to rebuild sea turtle populations to a substantial number. Human waste is one of the greatest impacts on sea turtles and marine life in general, but more specifically, plastic waste is the biggest threat. Each day tons of plastic waste are swept away and dumped into the ocean, wreaking havoc amidst marine life. Plastics are non-biodegradable, meaning that it cannot be broken down by living organisms.
What we can do to help
The first obvious effort to help sea turtles would be to reduce plastic waste as much as possible. This can prove to be quite difficult because plastics are used so commonly now, so another great option would be recycling plastics. In doing so, we can slow down the rate of how much plastic waste goes into the ocean. This will help to slow down the rate of plastic going into the ocean but there are still large amounts of plastic that would take decades to clean up.
Impacts of plastics on sea turtles
Sea turtles are incredibly resilient animals; however, they struggle to tell the difference between plastic and their food. Jellyfish are a popular meal for sea turtles, and as you can imagine, some plastics look like jellyfish. The turtles can mistakenly consume plastic thinking it is their food, and ultimately choke which can lead to fatality. Strangulation from plastic waste is another major threat to sea turtles and other marine life. Fishing lines, nets, and even pop can rings which all can be made from plastic, can entangle around sea turtles' necks and cause them to be strangled. These impacts are very serious, and we need to become aware of why it is important to reduce our plastic waste.
Importance in protecting sea turtles
Sea turtles have very few predators, besides the occasional shark or some bird and crab species when they are hatchlings. Humans are without a doubt the number one predator to sea turtles. It is important to protect these species because they are incredibly peaceful and elegant animals. They help to control the populations of kelp and jellyfish populations; without sea turtles these two species can thrive with very little threats. They are also some of the oldest surviving species on Earth, without them future generations will not be able to admire their beauty.