Trash vs. Sea Turtles? We are the deciding factor in who wins!
(by Hailey Schreyer, junior reporter)
Have you ever been at the beach and seen trash that shouldn’t be there? This trash is only unpleasant to see; it is also harmful to the animals that live in and around the ocean. Trash in the ocean is sometimes called marine debris. Much of the trash in the ocean is eaten by sea creatures that mistake it for food. Sea turtles love to snack on jellyfish, and plastic bags floating in the water happen to look a lot like jellyfish. Unfortunately, many sea turtles end up eating plastic bags instead of jellyfish and become very sick. Since the turtles cannot digest the plastic, they feel full all the time and do not eat. Unless the turtles are helped in time, they may eventually starve to death.
Plastic Bags last 10-20 years before decomposing!
Foam Cups last 50 years!
Marine debris affect sea creatures at every level, from microscopic plankton to whales. Trash, particularly plastic, works its way up the food chain in animals. Because plastic degrades into very small microscopic pieces, it can be ingested by plankton. This plastic-containing plankton is then eaten by small sea creatures such as shrimp and jellyfish as well as larger sea creatures including whales. In this way, plastic is transferred through the food chain as well as by animals eating it on their own.
Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose!
Cigarette butts last 1-3 years!
Trash everywhere eventually makes it’s way into waterways which ultimately ends up in the ocean. However, there is a simple way to stop this trash from getting into the ocean. It is up to us as humans to clean up after ourselves and pick up trash that we see. Even if you don’t live near the ocean, picking up trash that you see will stop it from ending up in the oceans and harming sea creatures. Trash everywhere eventually ends up in waterways which ultimately lead to the ocean. If you are going to the beach, it is a good idea to take one bag for trash that you see and another bag for “treasure” such as pretty shells or sea glass that you may find. There are trash cans at most public beach accesses and if there isn’t one, take the trash you find with you and put it in a different trash can you find. If you are at the beach and have trash from a picnic or beach toys, please do not leave it there. The creatures in the ocean will thank you for helping to keep them safe!