Three of the world’s seven species of sea turtles are ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’– an additional three species are ‘vulnerable’. Sea turtles are severely threatened by the way humans use plastic.
After hatching from their eggs on the beach they have to find the ocean by themselves and on their journey from land to sea, they may encounter lots of plastic. Some are trapped in it and die from lack of resources and from the sun being too hot. Sea turtles eat plastic bags because they confuse them with their actual diet such as jellyfish and algae. This can clog their intestines and cause internal bleeding which will eventually kill them.
Plastic is threatening not only the sea turtles, but oceans, beaches and dunes as well. In the oceans, sea turtles are among the very few creatures that eat sea grass. These plants need to be constantly cut short to help them grow across the sea floor – and that is vital as sea grass beds provide breeding and developmental grounds for a great number of marine animals.
Sea turtles lay their eggs on beaches and in sand dunes. As these environments are poor on nutrient, they depend on vegetation to protect against erosion. Eggs and hatchlings failing to make it into the ocean are nutrient sources for this vegetation – and therefore protect the nesting habitats for sea turtles.