Sea Turtles have a hard life history. They are born on a beach from 1 of 400 eggs laid in a nest under the sand. They are already in trouble while developing as an egg. Poachers will dig up the eggs and eat them. Poachers range from birds to small mammals to us (humans). If these little Sea Turtles hatch, then they have to crawl out of their sand nest and make the large trek to the Ocean (the distance to the beach may not seem far to you, but imagine how it feels for the Sea Turtles!). Birds dive bomb from above to grab the turtles for some lunch while the turtles are making their way to the ocean. This is just the beginning of their lives.
The Sea Turtles are a small reptile in a massive ocean filled with strong currents and big, hungry predators. Sea Turtle are slow growing so it takes them a while to reach full size, so they have to avoid predators for a while. Adult Sea Turtles who are full size will still have to avoid predators such as large sharks that can crush their shells in a few bites.
Imagine going through all these hardships and then you have to go through human hardships. Sea Turtles are air breathers and are at risk of drowning when they get caught in fishing nets such as gill nets and trawling nets. They can get caught in ghost nets, which are nets that are left by fishermen in the water because they broke or left there. Ghost nets are notorious for killing many species other then Sea Turtles (Seal, Sea Lions, Whales, Dolphins, Sharks, etc.).
There is one type of item that is a major cause of Sea Turtle deaths and that is plastic pollution. Plastic bags are notorious for killing Sea Turtles as they look very similar to Jellyfish when the bags float upside down. Small plastic pieces that are a product of plastic items breaking down in the Ocean are referred to as microplastics. Microplastics get caught in the digestive track fo Sea Turtles and many other animals causing them to choke or die from internal organ tissue damage.
And then there is the item that inspired me to create this Speak Up For Blue podcast episode: Plastic Straws. Researchers pulled, to their surprise and disappointment, a plastic straw from the naval cavity of a Sea Turtle. As you will see in the video (Warning! This video is graphic and contains a lot of the Sea Turtles blood), the Sea Turtle is in quite a bit of pain during the removal process. Here is the video:
I’ve been telling people for years that plastic straws are bad for the environment and they can kill many animals including Sea Turtles, birds, marine mammals, and fish; however, I think I will show this video from now on because it is som compelling.
Find out my thoughts on the matter and how you can reduce your straw use (and find out the alternatives to plastic straws) on the latest Speak Up For Blue Podcast!