World Turtle Day is May 23rd each year and is celebrated throughout the world. It was started in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue.
The day was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles
Where have all the turtles gone?
Turtles and tortoises are disappearing throughout the world. Biologists estimate that there will be none left in 50 years – that’s after surviving the dinosaurs! Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites.
Worldwide, six of the seven sea turtle species are classified as threatened or endangered due to human actions and lifestyles.
The biggest threats include:
Entanglement in fishing gear
Poaching and illegal trade of eggs, meat, and shells
Plastic and other marine debris
Your Dirty Laundry Could be Killing Turtles
Micro plastics has been found to pollute our Oceans, threatening the existence of these creatures. Scientists who have reported that the Great Lakes are awash in tiny bits of plastic are raising new alarms about a little- noticed form of the debris turning up in sampling nets: synthetic fibres from garments, cleaning cloths and other consumer products. They are known as “microfibers” — exceedingly fine filaments made of petroleum- based materials such as polyester and nylon that are woven together into fabrics.
“When we launder our clothes, some of the little microfibers will break off and go down the drain to the wastewater treatment facility and end up in our bodies of water”
By sampling wastewater from washing machines, Scientists have estimated that around 1,900 individual fibers can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment – ending up in our oceans.
Large plastic ingestion can kill turtles by blocking the gut or piercing the gut wall while microfibres can accumulate overtime inside a turtles body and can cause other problems through the release of toxic chemicals into the animals’ tissues leading to organ damage and mutation.
And it isn’t just plastic micro fibres but micro beads found in cosmetic products such as in facial scrubs, exfoliants and even toothpaste.
Ocean Clean up
Cleaning up our oceans is a daunting task but there are ways we can all contribute. There are organizations that are actively trying to reduce ocean plastic, and suggestions on how you can help facilitate positive change. Because ocean plastic is a big problem that affects each and everyone of us.
- Buy clothing made of natural organic fabric like cotton, linen, hemp, silk, and jute.
- Buy body products free from micro beads. Companies like The Body Shop, L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson vow to stop using microbeads in their products
- Buy less and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Having less shouldn’t be seen as a negative but a positive trend for more thoughtful purchasing.
Next time you’re out shopping consider buying natural organic clothing and products. By doing so, you could just be saving a turtle and other marine animals.