Plastic Pollution: Sea Turtles

My inspiration for making mosiacs out of plastics from the beach stem from the stories I hear about marine life being affected by trash. It is my hope to spread awareness through my plastic images and inspire people to do their part. So for this blog post I use my sea turtle as my muse. To share how sea turtles are affected by plastic pollution.

Turtally tragic

When people think of sea turtles and trash, the first thing that comes to mind is that video of a poor sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. The video is hard to watch as scientists take ten minutes to remove the embedded straw. But it appealed to people’s sensitive nature and promoted awareness about the use of single use plastics such as straws. Now in some places you receive paper straws that dissolve instead of plastic straws.

Another non biodegradable item that sea turtles have issues with are plastic bags. According to the US EPA, Americans use about 380 billion plastic bags and wraps a year. When plastic bags end up in the ocean they have the potential to end up in marine life’s stomachs. The sea turtle especially is a main target as it mistakes plastic bags for jellyfish, which can be the source for some sea turtle’s diets.

I don’t want to flood this blog post with photos of sea turtles being harmed by plastic. As it is hard enough to see in the first place. I want to create a space of awareness and share my photos of sea turtles I have yet to see harmed by plastic. To inspire and show that there is hope. You can still help these voiceless creatures by doing your part. Start by using reusable bags every time you go to the store. They are hard to remember but keep them in your car or by the door as you head out. Also if you haven’t already, start saying no to plastic straws. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Every bit of awareness helps which is why I continue to pick up tiny plastic pieces on the beach. It seems futile yet I feel I have to do something. Especially knowing that micro plastics are now the biggest threat to young sea turtles.

When sea turtle hatchlings make it out to the open ocean they are opportunistic feeders. Meaning they aren’t picky about what they find for food. Unfortunately for these tiny turtles, a lot of what they are finding and eating is broken down plastics. While reading an article by Katie Brown, graduate student with Science Communication Program at UCSC, I came across a startling research study about baby sea turtles and these broken down plastics. A team of researches from the University of Georgia used a rescue project to see what turtles had been ingesting. Out of the 100 hatchlings washed up off the coast of Florida, they found that all had plastics in their bellies. Half of the turtles that were released back into the wild had passed plastics. When these researchers tried rehabilitating the remaining turtles, half of them died. Due to them ingesting micro plastics and having complications with blockages and storing nutrition.

what can you do

These are tragic truths we face about the problem with plastics. Yet they must be addressed so we can fix the problem. I sometimes feel helpless when reading about it but I use that emotion and turn it into motivation. So how can you use your motivation to help against plastic pollution? First and foremost, always try and reduce your use of single use plastics. Join beach clean ups and community events advocating conservation for our oceans. Don’t let the long fight ahead get you down. Try to pick up the pieces and have fun with it!

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