Sea turtles and the plastic problem

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Our feature endangered species of May is...

The Sea Turtle

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Sea turtles have been in existence for over 100 million years and they fill a vital role in the balance of marine habitats.

They help to maintain the health of seagrass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster, and tuna. There are seven species of sea turtle; all are now classified as endangered and three of them are critically endangered.

Sea turtles live between land and sea and can swim thousands of ocean miles during their long lifetimes. Waiting decades until they can reproduce, sea turtles return to the same beaches that they were born to lay their eggs. Females can lay hundreds of eggs, yet few will yield hatchlings that survive their first year of life.

Loggerhead turtle caught in fishing net
Other than the significant natural challenges, sea turtles also face multiple threats caused by humans, such as bycatch in commercial fishing gear, illegal trade, consumption, and climate change.

One major threat to sea turtles that we can control is human pollution:

Sea turtle eating plastic
Sea turtles often mistake floating plastic materials for jellyfish and can choke on them when they try to eat them. These encounters are often fatal. Lost or discarded fishing gear can entangle sea turtles and drown or render them unable to feed or swim. Trash on beaches can trap hatchlings and prevent them from reaching the ocean. Read more about this here.
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What happens when we throw away plastic?

Check out The Green Channel's latest film release, Plastic is Forever where 13-year-old filmmaker, Dylan D'Haeze, follows plastic trash to its end source which is the ocean. As the "downhill to everything", that great blue expanse serves as an unintentional dumping ground and a transportation system as countless pieces of plastic debris wash up on shores around the world. Marine life often ingest plastic debris which ends up affecting human health as those creatures end up on dinner plates.

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More films that address the issue of plastic:

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Straws by Linda Booker

Environmental researchers, marine biologists, and activists lay out how plastic pollution ends up doing irreversible harm to the ocean, marine life, and eventually human health if the problem continues to build. Straws is an award-winning short documentary that about plastic straw litter and how we can make a sea of straw at a time. Watch the trailer now here and stay tuned for it's release on The Green Channel this summer.

Also stay tuned for, Save the Planet Already! - a Green Channel Original comedy that will give us a little to laugh about in these tumultuous times. It might even have a little bit about turtles. We're just sayin'!!!

Coming Summer 2020