By Josie January 19th, 2023
Turtles are incredible creatures that can exist in both water and on land and have been living in the Earth’s seas, oceans, and rivers for more than 200 million years.
Sadly, their continued presence on our planet is uncertain, mainly due to one thing: plastic.
Turtles belong to the family of reptiles known as the Chelonioidea, and you can find them in aquatic and terrestrial habitats alike.
They have a unique shell that acts as a protective cover, allowing them to survive in various environments.
The shell comprises two parts: the carapace (top shell) and the plastron (bottom shell).
They're known for their long lifespans, with some species living up to 100 years in the wild.
This is solely due to human oversight and indiscretion.
Plastic waste is one of the most pervasive pollutants in the world’s oceans.
According to a United Nations Environment Programme report, approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans annually.
Plastic waste often finds its way into the oceans and can be mistaken for food by turtles.
If eaten, it can cause several health ailments, including intestinal blockages, infection, and even death.
Plastic bags is one of the most common forms of plastic waste in our oceans, other than ingestion it frequently causes suffocation of turtles.
Plastic waste can damage coral reefs, which are a vital part of the marine ecosystem and oxygen production.
Thus, the destruction of coral reefs reduces the oxygen levels in the ocean, making it difficult for turtles to breathe.
The effects of plastic pollution extend to their habitat.
Plastic straws are also one of the most common forms of plastic waste in our oceans.
We're well aware of the harm they do, nonetheless 8.3 billion plastic straws are still discarded into the world’s oceans every year.
They often become entangled in turtles’ shells, preventing them from swimming and feeding properly, consequently causing starvation.
A reduction in our consumption of single-use plastic items will go a long way.
We should option for reusable/biodegradable straws and plastic bags.
Bringing a bottle of water from home is a simple way of minimizing your plastic use and carbon footprint, while also saving you money!
You can help protect turtles by supporting organizations working to protect them.
It is estimated that up to 46% of sea turtles have ingested plastic, as well as 90% of seabirds.
Furthermore, plastic pollution kills roughly 100,000 sea turtles and 1 million seabirds yearly.
It may be the plastic that is harming them, but it needs to be underlined that it is the action of us human's that are indirectly killing them.