Today is World Turtle Day. All se7en of the species left in the world today are threatened. Wherever you are in the world, your lifestyle choices effect the ocean and the habitat of all our turtles. Today is the day to consciously make greener choices for our ocean. As the great Sylvia Earle says, “No blue, no green.”
The Two Oceans Aquarium is Celebrating…
You can read all about this evening’s event: and there are loads of fabulous speakers.
Let’s Talk About Our Turtles
Sea turtles are incredible adventurers, that swim incredibly long distances, carried for thousands of kilometres on the flow of ocean currents but they always navigate their way home to their birthplace to breed and lay eggs. Turtles breathe air like we do, and can hold their breathe for long periods of time while they are underwater. They also gulp water when they feed and excrete the salt (from the sea water), through glands close to their eyes.
Their need for water is perhaps their downfall, because when young turtles find themselves stranded on our Cape Town beaches they quickly become dehydrated, unfortunately in this weakened state placing them back into the water when they are too weak to raise their heads to breathe means that they inevitably drown. To protect our local turtles from this awful situation the Two Oceans Aquarium has established a rehabilitation centre for stranded turtles and they rely on the public to contact them when they find a stranded turtle. If you want to know more about Cape Town’s turtles then take a look at this link.
At the rehabilitation centre the turtles are given any medical treatment that they might need, they are fed and cared for until they are viable and able to launch back into the ocean. Every year the Aquarium is able to release more and more turtles back into their natural environment.
What to Do If you find a Turtle
Recently Hood 3 did a course at the aquarium and was so taken with the plight of the stranded hatchlings that she gave a talk to a local group of kids about what to do if they should discover a stranded turtle on one of our beaches.
The aquarium has published guidelines and the more people that know how to rescue a stranded turtle the better…
Another problem our turtles encounter is a lot of litter, particularly plastic, in our oceans. If the turtles eat plastic then even though their tummies are full they cannot get any nutrition, and otherwise the plastic creates a buoyancy in them, which makes it impossible for them to dive for food. It is a cruel and horrible way for turtles to die… and every piece of plastic that you choose not to use is a good choice. And for the plastic that is out there already we have to clean it up piece by piece and urgently.
After learning about turtles and how to deal with the plastic Hood 3 headed out onto the beach to do a beach cleanup. Even on a pristine looking beach in a marine reserve, at Cape Point, we were able to accumulate a lot of garbage on the beach.
Each of us, at the clean up, was easily able to collect at least a turtle sized pile of trash. Which we documented as we usually do.
We always take a sheet from this site down to the beach for a clean up, it is important to document the garbage that you find.
With 33 people on our clean up we cleared up at least 33 turtles worth of garbage… that’s a lot of garbage. Of course the main culprits were: straws, plastic bottle tops and packing tape.
That’s a lot of garbage that was collected in a quick beach clean up… Imagine if everyone who visited the beach just picked up three pieces of garbage before they went for a play, or a surf, or a snorkel… it would make a real difference.
On this World Turtle Day, wherever you are in the world… you can make a difference for threatened turtles everywhere, you can choose to just say no to plastic.