Happy World Turtle Day, May 23, 2012
Happy World Turtle Day! This is an excellent day to celebrate turtles, and to remember that we share our natural world with diverse species (many of which are at risk). Of the world's seven species of sea turtles, three are critically endangered. Four of Delaware's five federally-listed endangered or threatened reptiles are turtles:
- Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
- Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)
- Bog Turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii)
Protecting turtles requires the preservation of their habitat (including their feeding and reproductive areas), reduction in pollution and elimination of human-caused threats. For example, plastic causes serious harm to turtles.
Some disturbing facts about the impacts of plastic on sea turtles:
- 86% of all sea turtle species have been shown to be affected by plastic marine debris pollution (Denuncio et al., 2011).
- Plastic debris is one of the main threats to the survival of sea turtles (Bugoni, Krause and Petry, 2001).
- All species of sea turtles eat pieces of plastic (Bugoni, Krause and Petry, 2001).
- Plastic bags, especially white and colorless pieces, are one of the most prominent types of plastic that are eaten by sea turtles and contribute to sea turtle deaths (Bugoni, Krause and Petry, 2001; Derriak, 2002).
Join our effort to reduce ocean plastic by banning single-use, non-biodegradable plastic bags in Delaware. Sign the petition today.
Bugoni, Leandro, Ligia Krause, and Maria Virginia Petry. 2001. "Marine Debris and Human Impacts on Sea Turtles in Southern Brazil." Marine Pollution Bulletin 42, no. 12: 1330-1334.
Denuncio, Pablo, Ricardo Bastida, Mariela Dassis, Gisela Giardino, Marcela Gerpe, and Diego Rodriguez. 2011. "Plastic ingestion in Franciscana dolphins, Pontoporia blainvillei (Gervais and d’Orbigny, 1844), from Argentina " Marine Pollution Bulletin 62, no. 8: 1836-1841.
Derriak, Jose G. B. 2002. "The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: a review." Marine Pollution Bulletin 44, no. 9: 842-852.
Photo: Amazon River Turtle, Peru by Amy Roe