Climate change, pollution and environmental toxicity isn’t just going to affect humans and animals that live on land, it also impacts the wellbeing of marine life including whales, dolphins, fish of all sizes, sea birds and sea turtles.
Compared to other animals, sea turtles should live relatively long lives. On average, a healthy sea turtle should live for about 80 years; however, due to the dumping of plastics in the ocean, the lives of sea turtles are under constant threat.
According to statistics, there is 8 million tons of plastic dumped into the ocean every year. We may have gotten the million tons of plastic off the land but dumping them into the ocean isn’t going to make them disappear! Plastics in the ocean have dire consequences; they are the leading cause of death in sea turtles.
Plastics disproportionately affect sea turtles over other marine animals. A sea turtle’s structure doesn’t allow for regurgitation; while other animals may be able to get rid of the plastics from their bodies, sea turtles cannot. Their downward facing spines simply don’t let them regurgitate what they swallowed.
Year after year, sea turtles are being killed by ingesting debris; marine biologists have discovered plastic bags in their stomachs. Even small pieces of plastic that are the size of a fingernail can kill a sea turtle if it’s consumed.
Plastics can’t be broken down by the chemicals in an animal’s body. When sea turtles swallow a plastic bag, it will remain there and prevent them from swallowing food. Other times, the plastics can clog the sea turtle’s digestive tract and stop them from releasing gas.
Marine biologists at sea turtle conservations regularly encounter sea turtles with “bubble butts”. The term is used to describe sea turtles that have so much trapped gas that they can actually float in the water. All the trapped the body eventually causes starvation which in turn makes them weak and easy catch for predators.
The majority of the plastics in the sea come through rivers; around 80% of it comes from landfills and other waste systems in cities. The plastic waste found in the ocean is consumed by fish, sharks are often found entangled in them and the damage coral reefs around the world too.
Marine biologists and environmentalists are urging governments to take action and limit the dumping of plastics into the ocean to protect aquatic life.
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At first glance, jellyfish look like empty bags floating through the ocean. Their clear, gelatinous bodies have no heart or brain; to most people, the only thing worth noting about jellyfish is their ability to sting you.
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