SEA TURTLE FAQ
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
As the news takes over to cover Covid-19 updates, I have been wracking my brain about how to continue to write about traveling and sustainability during this crisis. One of the topics that is constantly on my mind is marine conservation.
This is something that unless we live or visit beaches we may not think of. Yet, marine conservation and all the efforts that go along with it have a huge impact on our oceans wildlife.
One way to realize the impact we have on marine life is by learning about these creatures and the effects plastic pollution has on them.
For example, sea turtles can often confuse plastic bags for jellyfish, which they love to eat. In learning about sea turtles, their habitat and behaviors, we may be more attuned to making decisions that may have a positive impact on them.
In February 2020, I was in Hawaii and went out with the Pacific Whale Foundation on a snorkel tour. Here we encountered a few sea turtles which we were able to get close to and swim next to for quite a bit.
Prior to this, I had never seen a sea turtle in the ocean and had no idea that I would feel a sense of wonder next to them. So, I wanted to learn more. These are a few of the questions that made me have a greater sense of respect for them.
How are sea turtles born?
In the summer time, sea turtles go to the beach and waddle to a spot where they dig a hole and lay eggs. Usually this happens in warmer weather areas like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Hawaii. The sea turtles can lay up to 100 eggs at a time. When the turtles are ready to hatch, they all do it around the same time. Then all of these hundreds of sea turtles in unison make their way down the beach to the water.
How old do sea turtles live?
There are different kinds of sea turtles, and depending on the species, the lifespan can be shorter or longer. Some live as long as 30 years while others can live to around 100 years old.
The turtle in this picture is right around 100 years old.
Are sea turtles dinosaurs?
Sea turtles developed about 110 million years ago. The closest one to the sea turtles that were around back then are the leatherback sea turtles.
What do sea turtles eat?
What sea turtles eat also depends on the species of sea turtle. Here is a list of the different kinds of sea turtles and what they like to eat.
Olive Ridleys: Crabs, shrimp, jellyfish and snails.
Loggerheads: lobsters, fish, horseshoe crabs and crustaceans.
Leatherbacks: They love jellyfish!
Green: seagrass, algae and seaweed
Hawksbill: anemones and soft sponges
Where do sea turtles live?
Sea turtles live all over the world, but especially in tropical or subtropical waters. They can be found in places like Hawaii, California, and Mexico.
What environmental issues are affecting sea turtles?
While in the water, sea turtles face danger of being caught in fishing gear. Other marine debris like trash bags, can be confused by turtles for jellyfish. Once ingested, this can block their passage and kill them.
What are some human issues affecting sea turtles?
Turtle eggs are often stolen and sold in the black market.
Coastal development can take away space from the sea turtles
Turtleshell trade can be used as decoration or turned into jewelry
Vessel strikes/ boat collisions cause trauma to sea turtles
What can we do to help sea turtles?
There is so much we can do, with the first step being to reduce single use plastic. This is something that we can begin to do in our every day lives.
What are some ways we can reduce single use plastic?
Here are some every day examples that may help you as you journey on to reduce your plastic use.
When ordering takeout, ask for your plastic cutlery to be removed from your order. Consider going one step further and ask them to not put your order in a plastic bag. Instead, bring your own reusable bag to take your food home.
If you need to get more shampoo and conditioner, think about getting some in a solid form. Lush Cosmetics has some great options, and they are cruelty free!
Instead of using cotton balls or makeup wipes, swap this for a makeup remover in oil form and a cloth that you can use and wash at home.
Save your jars and learn how to make your own jam or baked goods. These make great gifts and are fun activities to do!
Why does this matter?
Everything that we do today has a ripple effect on something or someone tomorrow or in the years to come.
If you toss a plastic water bottle away, or use plastic bags in your next grocery trip, this was a one time experience for you. However, this will continue to stay in our planet for hundreds of years. Straws specifically take between 200 - 500 years to decompose this is a very long time for something that may have been used in less than one day.
When you toss something out and it is not recycled properly, it ends up in landfills, or inadvertently in our oceans. In the water, these plastics become micro-plastics which hurt the marine eco-system more than we will ever realize from the comfort of our home.
In learning about marine animals we develop knowledge of something other than ourselves. A sense of selflessness can be developed and a love for our planet strengthened.
Do your part, and start making changes so that you can help save the turtles, and the rest of the marine ecosystem.