Every May 23, we SHELLibrate World Turtle Day®. Created in 1990 by the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) in Malibu, CA. ATR’s mission is to promote the safe and humane treatment of turtles, especially now as they face plastic poisoning, endangered habitats, illegal smuggling, declining birth rates, and death by starvation.
Turtles are in trouble
Who is to blame for 70% of turtle species being endangered?
Unfortunately, we are. In ways that are both direct and indirect. Humans are causing the destruction of turtle habitats. Plastic trash, lost nets, and general pollution are some of the most destructive forces to sea turtle habitat. Many people are misinformed about where their plastic “recyclables” go, and believe that all plastic with a triangle on the bottom goes to a recycling plant and gets turned into a brand new water bottle or bag. Sadly, it doesn’t. And what about all that trash you see in the streets and gutters? It gets washed straight down the sewers and out to waterways. Sea turtles and plastic pollution is a no-win situation for turtles. Take a look at this video and we can see how just a few pieces of plastic trash on the beach can be lethal to an unsuspecting sea turtle.
Why are turtles starving to death?! The indirect impact of pollution.
The starvation of marine animals can also be attributed to, you guessed it, human activity. While of course most people would never want to starve a turtle, our everyday habits are contributing to turtle starvation. Here’s why. Turtles that live in water often mistake plastic bags, balloons, and other microplastics for food. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy:
“Most of the debris is recognizable. Plastic bags, bottles, balloons, degraded buoys, packaging materials and food wrappers all contribute to the debris. While large plastics are a substantial pollutant, over time these plastics will break down into smaller, more toxic pieces. Not only are these small plastics more easily ingested, but they also act as hosts for invasive species, carrying them to other regions of the ocean exponentially increasing the damages caused by plastics. In addition, certain plastic contains toxic additives that are distributed into the water and enter into the food chain.”
The biggest threats to turtle survival include:
- Plastic and other marine debris
- Entanglement in fishing gear
- Coastal development
- Global warming
- Ocean pollution
- Turtle Shell trade
- Consumption and illegal trade of eggs, meat, and shells
About the Founders of World Turtle Day - American Tortoise Rescue
Even though the American Tortoise Rescue suffered terrible losses in the 2018 Malibu fires, Tellum and co-founder Marshall Thompson decided this year, more than ever, that World Turtle Day® is imperative.
“We are more grateful than ever this year to shellebrate. We lost our home and the turtle hospital in the Woolsey fire in Malibu, one of the worst wildfires in history. We were able to evacuate with all 35 turtles and tortoises in our hospital, but those in the rescue itself were hibernating and hidden,” Tellum said. “Fortunately, the 15 pond turtles and more than 50 other rescues sheltered in place in fireproof housing that my husband built years ago.”
Tellem said the intense heat melted everything and destroyed plants and trees, but the hibernating turtles and a statue of St. Francis survived. To help support the rescue, visit their page.
So, how will you SHELLibrate World Turtle Day? Go plastic-free & always choose REUSABLE!
Let’s help turtles by supporting their habitat and making sure they live safe, plastic-free lives. Single-use plastic bottles are one of the worst forms of pollution threatening our oceans today. At the rate which plastic is produced, there’s expected to be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. We must help our wild friends by changing this prediction. This is why the team at PATHWATER started a petition to add PET plastic to California Bill AB 1080. Let’s make this change as big as possible, as fast as possible! Click here to sign the petition & make sure to SHARE it with your turtle-loving friends.
#WorldTurtleDay #OurPath2050 #RefillNotLandfill #TheNewHybrid #SingleUseSucks
Want to know more about turtles? Check out these resources: