You and I are very well aware of the catastrophic plastic bags suspended in the water bodies, oceans or beaches. We can find the plastic debris everywhere. Plastic waste is one the most challenging environmental issues of our time. It is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped in the ocean every year. Plastics have already destroyed the plankton in our sea, and if it continues, it could outweigh fish in the oceans in the next 30 years.
An average sea turtle’s lifespan is around 80 years. The sea turtles represent one of the most highly threatened wildlife group in today’s world. Issues such as the pollution, by catch, destruction of nesting habitat and hunting has threatened existence of 4 of the 7 species of the turtles.
As estimated, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles die each year only because of plastics floating around oceans, mostly ingesting or entangled in the plastic debris. The main reason of ingestion is that plastic debris look similar to the jellyfish in some cases. This leads to blockages in their digestive system which leads to death. The most unfortunate thing is, majority of the plastic found in oceans, are micro plastic- small plastics, about a size of millimetres or even smaller. These have turned the oceans into what scientists call “plastic soup”. The marine animals consume these micro plastic, and humans are the end consumer of these plastics.
A study reveals that consuming plastic waste is a big cause for increasing the risk of mortality for the sea turtles. The study by Loggerhead Marinelife Center and University of Georgia, was carried out on “post hatching” (a term used to refer to juveniles and adults) turtles found along the coast of Florida. Half of these turtles were later rehabilitated, with a further 27 being studied extensively. All these turtles were found to have plastic in their stomach. The sea turtles are believed to confuse plastic waste with the jellyfish. The scale of this issue is likely to lead to their population decline, according to the scientists who carried out the study.
The solution to such a problem is mass awareness on waste management, people moving towards using eco-friendly plastic alternatives, supporting local, regional or nationwide ban on plastic products.
Plastic waste not only pollutes our immediate surroundings, but also the vital habitats of many other endangered species. Only when the mankind will realize the cost of using plastic and choose to make a plastic-free world we can prevent our oceans from turning into haunted places for marine creatures. It’s our responsibility to protect our biodiversity. We have created a massive problem in the oceans. We need to make changes in our choices to bring changes in the ocean. And if we don’t act now, the water that surrounds us will never be the same again.
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE TURTLES:
1. The olive ridley turtle is the smallest and most abundantly found sea turtle in the world. In India, it is found all along the Indian coastline, inhabiting the waters of the Indian Ocean.
2. The olive ridley, along with its cousin, the Kemps Ridley, are the two sea turtle species in the world which exhibit the unique mass nesting phenomenon, also known as ‘arribada’ , making it iconic species.
The theme for 2020 World Turtle Day 2020 focuses on bringing attention and increasing knowledge on the subject of tortoises and turtles.
Note: On 23rd May we celebrate World Turtle Day. World Turtle Day is an annual celebration sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue since 2000, with a motive to bring attention and increase knowledge about turtles and tortoise.