Plastic, a serious threat Sea Turtles

Turtles confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, one of their favorites (Pierre Huguet / AFP)

Thousands of them get injured or die every year when they get trapped or ingest plastic waste thrown into the ocean

Thirteen million tons of plastic end up each year in the water and on the shores of oceans and seas of our planet. Indeed, a threat that affects most species of sea turtles.

Half of the sea turtles in the world have eaten plastic waste during their lives, and at least a thousands die each year because of pollution caused by plastics or by getting trapped in these wastes.

Plastic traps in the middle of the sea

The kind of waste that most affects sea turtles are fishing equipment, like for example nets or nylon and plastic ropes.

The animals get stuck in these threads and must drag weights far bigger than their own body. For some this is just to heavy for them to get back out to the surface and end up drowning.

Biodegradable fish equipment, which can decompose in the water after a while, would be a safer option for marine animals. (iStockphoto)

Another kind of waste Sea turtles are severely affected by are Plastic containers, like can rings, plastic cups or straws,

Turtles get trapped in these recipients, sometimes for life, causing their body to grow with malformations or amputated parts. These are products that we only use for a few minutes, but remain in the sea for decades.

Plastic bags also a serious threat to turtles, as they confuse them for one of their favorite foods: jellyfish.

The animals swallow the bags, which get stuck in their intestines and gives them the feeling of being always full. As a result, the turtles stop eating and starve to death.

A risk to the survival of the species

In the oceans and seas of our planet there are seven species of marine turtles, six of which are classified as vulnerable, at risk or in serious danger of extinction.

The survival of these species is threatened by human activities like poaching of animals and their eggs, destruction of their habitat and rising water temperatures, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Survival of these species is hanging by a thread, and the death caused by the plastic waste could mean the extinction of entire communities.

The solution: clean oceans

The only solution to recover the populations of sea turtles and ensure their survival is to remove the plastic from the oceans, although for now the first step is to reduce the amount of waste in the water.

Reuse and recycling are the best answer for plastic products not to end up in seas, but the most effective would be to just stop using this material.

To achieve this, one option is to look for alternative materials that are biodegradable and to make consumers aware that most of the time we don’t even need the plastic recipients we use.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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