March is Sea Turtle Awareness Month, and the staff at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center are working hard to educate the public about the dangers of single-use plastics on our beaches.
Out in the open ocean many sea turtles struggle to survive amid the plastic that pollutes the water—the churning cloud of bottles and bags that float on the waves. These single-use plastics are what their name implies: they are made to be disposable and generally used only once.
“Single-use plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats that sea turtles face every single day,” said Hannah Deadman, a spokesperson for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. “Our rehabilitation staff has seen nearly 100 percent of our sick or injured sea turtle patients with some form of plastic impacted inside of them.”
How you can help
Take at look at your lifestyle
- Reduce your use of single-use plastics like grocery store shopping bags and water bottles. “Simple acts like bringing a reusable water bottle or reusable bag with you make a huge difference in reducing the impact of plastics in our oceans,” said Deadman.
- Knock down sandcastles and fill in holes from umbrellas and chairs before you leave the beach—otherwise sea turtle hatchlings risk falling into the holes while making their trek to their ocean habitat.
Both sea turtle rehabilitation centers (Loggerhead in Juno and Gumbo Limbo in Boca) offer a variety of programs this month.
- March 12 – Loggerhead Marinelife Center will host an eco-adventures tour where participants will be able to see local wildlife up close and personal. While immersed in nature, guides will inform people about the many ways they can help sea turtles and other marine life.
- March 25 – Loggerhead will host its 14th annual TurtleFest this year, which will feature artists, bands, conservation awareness, interactions with sea turtles and more.
- March 31 – Marine conservationist Dr. Kirt Rusenko will present a lecture as part of Florida Atlantic University’s Frontiers in Science Lecture Series. It is titled “Light Pollution: Effects on Sea Turtles and You.”
- You can also learn more about marine life conservation by attending one of Gumbo Limbo’s many programs this month, such as walking through the butterfly-laden Ashley Trail while learning about the different fauna native to South Florida.
Although sea turtles struggle with human-caused threats, there’s hope for them.
Thanks to ongoing community support and involvement, research biologists at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center said 2016 was an improved year for loggerheads. In just the 9.5 miles of beach that the center monitors there were more than 15,000 loggerhead nests discovered! So many nests burst with life, in fact, that it was a record-setting year for loggerheads in the Sunshine State.