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Friday
Aug302013

How to save sea turtles from at home and abroad

Part of the work on Frontier’s marine conservation projects involves volunteers working with local communities to clear vast amounts of rubbish and plastic debris from coastal areas, as they to try to reduce the effect of growing environmental pollution.

Globally, the increase in plastic use is having serious problems on wildlife because of the large amount of time it takes to biodegrade, and the toxic additives it adds to the ocean. Sadly, sea turtles are suffering the most because they spend a lot of time on the beach laying eggs, and swimming through the sea where the litter floats.

Image courtesy of Sarah Cheetham, Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation

According to experts, sea turtles are swallowing plastic at twice the rate at which they did 25 years ago. Ocean gyres are responsible for the transportation of such harmful materials. A gyre is a huge spiral-like meeting point of currents in the ocean in which rubbish collects. Therefore rubbish remains in one area for years, and there are currently 5 of these covering the world’s oceans, some are even the same size as the state of Texas! As the plastic slowly breaks down into smaller pieces, they float on the surface of the water and eventually become the same size as algae, which fish cannot avoid eating. This is the first stage of plastic entering the food chain.

Other impacts include the injuring of tourists along the coastlines. Plastics may be sharp if they are broken, and this can be harmful if washed up in beach locations. Wildlife can get caught in litter and become unable to free themselves which can cause a slow and unnecessary death. They may also ingest the potentially toxic substances simply by mistaking a floating plastic bag for a jellyfish. Tourists no longer want to visit an area when it is renowned for its plastic waste, and therefore the main source of revenue for a country declines affecting the economy.

Image courtesy of Jack Henry, Cambodia Island Beach Conservation

Volunteering projects such as beach clean ups are important on a local scale because they ensure an improved sustainability, as well as bringing visitors in to assist, this also encourages tourists because the beaches become pristine again. Yet they are unable to tackle the source of our plastic problems. Globally, we need to manage man-made debris, from the point of manufacture to the point of consumption more safely through efficient recycling schemes and a reduction in purchase. This begins with the choices we make at home, reducing and recycling what we use, but also ensuring we’re disposing what we do use as carefully as possible to help avoid it making its way into the ocean.

Although gyres are extremely hard to manage, hopefully with a reduced plastic consumption and increased clear ups, the problem will continually better itself, along coastlines at least. So if you are determined to save the world and our sea turtles, take note and volunteer...

By Laura Robinson

If you would like to help the environment and its vulnerable wildlife such as sea turtles, please get involved with any of Frontier’s marine conservation projects working across the globe.

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