Bit more of a factual, conservation post for you today as I think it’s a really important subject that I’ve found certain inspiration for recently. Sea turtles are my favourite animals and always have been. They are such peaceful, gentle and intelligent animals and they need saving so they can save our oceans. There are 7 extant species of sea turtle and each one plays an important role in maintaining the diversity, habitat and functionality of it’s environment. Whether that’s grazing on sea grass, controlling sponge distribution, feasting on jellyfish, transporting nutrients or supporting other marine life. They are so important!
All sea turtles are currently endangered which is such a scary thing. There are so many reasons why sea turtles are being threatened: natural threats, human threats, illegal sea turtle shell trade, commercial fishing, marine debris, artificial lighting….I could go on. Sadly, only an estimated one in 1,000 to 10,000 will survive to adulthood. One of the threats I have personally experienced is the recent hurricanes of Irma and Maria. They were so devastating for so many beaches and turtle nests. Going down to our local beach after the hurricanes, and where you normally see sandy tracks and carved out turtle nests, it has been replaced with tonnes of wood and debris from the ocean, all of the nests and eggs were gone- it was so heartbreaking.
So…what can we do?!?
Seeing sea turtles in their natural habitat is the best thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve watched them nesting on a beach in Montserrat (I saw a green turtle and a hawksbill) and it was so special. If you go down to a turtle nesting beach at night, there are ways to help protect the nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings:
• Keep your distance! If you get too close, you may scare them and they won’t want to nest.
• Use red LED flashlights on the beach at night, turn the brightness down on your phone- don’t take flash photos!
• Fill in holes that people have made in the sand during the day, so the sea turtles don’t fall into them and get stuck.
• Check the beach and correctly dispose of fishing line or anything that sea turtles and any other animals can get stuck in.
• It is illegal to harm, harass or take sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings, including getting too close to a nesting female.
There are so many other things you can do from your home town no matter how far you are from the ocean. For example we all know plastic bags do not biodegrade. But we need to do more, currently less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide! Plastic bags that end up in the ocean get mistaken for food (such as jellyfish) by marine life including turtles and they ingest it. This causes blockages in their digestive system and eventually death. By reusing plastic bags or recycling them properly it could make a huge difference.
• Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!
• Use reusable cloth bags when shopping instead of plastic ones.
• Don’t Litter
• Don’t release balloons into the air. They can travel very far and end up in the ocean, that turtles can mistake for food and ingest.
To finish on a happy note, yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of being able to swim with these magnificent creatures. I am currently staying on the West Coast of Barbados, so finding sea turtles isn’t that hard. I went for a snorkel on Worthing beach and there they were, peacefully grazing on the sandy ocean floor, in a pretty shallow area. It was amaaaazinggggg. I took some photos and videos, but at all times keeping my distance, respecting them and not touching them!! I strongly believe the current conservation work that is being done with the sea turtles is really making a difference but everyone can do their bit by respecting the turtles and just letting them be.
(I know my photos ain’t the clearest but for an iPhone in a waterproof baggy, I think it did pretty well. I am forever kicking myself I didn’t invest in a good waterproof camera before I went travelling, c’mon Hannah think!)
S A V E~T H E~T U R T L E S
Thanks for reading!