As more and more sea turtle nests are hatching along Marco’s beaches, it is important to consider ways to safeguard the threatened species. One of the best ways to make a personal impact is by properly disposing of your garbage – whether on the beach or not.
It is estimated that Americans use 380 billion plastic bags every year. Considering that only two percent of these bags are recycled and the other 98 percent will take 1,000 years to biodegrade, it is no surprise that sea turtles and other marine creatures are beginning to share the ocean with these lightweight death traps. It is estimated that one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles worldwide die yearly from ingesting these bags. Plastic bags and bottles can easily be mistaken for jellyfish by sea turtles, who unknowingly eat them and die due to blockages within their digestive system.
Loose garbage easily finds its way into the open ocean by way of swamp, canals and rivers in South Florida. Disposing of trash responsibly regardless of where you are can help save seabirds and marine mammals.
When on the beach, it is important to remember that anything left behind, including chairs, umbrellas, toys, garbage, sand castles and holes dug in the sand, can hinder the development of the sea turtle population.
Female sea turtles are often discouraged from nesting due to debris that is left on public beaches. Upon contact with foreign objects, females will often turn back to the water rather than battle with the unknown. Hatchlings may also become disoriented and lose their way if they run into debris on their way to the open sea.
It is extremely easy to avoid these unfortunate incidents. So do your part and don’t pollute! After all, sea turtles don’t go shopping, so they certainly don’t need our plastic bags!