It’s World Turtle Day! Here at Earth Rangers we love celebrating the critters we share our planet with, and we always do what we can to protect them.
Did you know turtles have roamed the Earth for over 200 million years! In fact, these ancient creatures have been called the “cousins” of dinosaurs! Pretty cool, right? Even though they have stood the test of time, turtles are facing a new threat. That threat comes from the plastic water bottles, straws, cans, and plastic bags we use on a regular basis! Yup, we’re talking about litter.
You might have seen that viral video of a team of scientists rescuing a sea turtle that got tangled up with some plastic trash. It is hard to watch, but we have to ask- how did all that junk get there in the first place?
There are TONNES of garbage in the ocean!
Unfortunately, huge amounts of litter and plastic garbage gets swept up into our oceans, where it can affect all kinds of marine animals.
- The biggest garbage dump on Earth is found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and it’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Out of all the garbage and litter, plastic is the biggest culprit!
- Every year, more than eight million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean.
- You don’t need to be close to the ocean for your garbage to end up there.
Animals like the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle that share our Canadian waters risk mistaking a plastic bag for a yummy jellyfish- which is their favourite meal! Others like the Loggerhead Sea turtle might get tangled in rope that has washed up on shore, possibly stopping them from laying their eggs.
What about our freshwater ecosystems?
Here in Canada we have a huge number of freshwater ecosystems, but we often only hear about garbage in the ocean. It turns out that freshwater ecosystems face the same challenges when it comes to garbage pollution.
- About ten thousand tonnes of plastic finds its way into the Great Lakes every year!
- Some of this trash ends up being washed onto shore, where it damages important shoreline habitat.
As an example, let’s take a look at Manitoulin island. This island is located in Lake Huron and is the largest freshwater island in the world. Many different turtle species can be found in the island’s shoreline habitats, such as painted, snapping, spotted, and Blanding’s turtles. These cool creatures heavily rely on the land near the water to lay their eggs.
Keeping shorelines clean can help baby turtles avoid getting lost or caught in plastic before they can make it into the water. It can also make sure a turtle doesn’t mistake a candy wrapper for a tasty fish!
Apart from turtles, shoreline garbage can harm entire ecosystems! So, it’s important that we do our part to keep our shorelines clean.
Become a Shoreline Saver with this Earth Rangers Mission!
As Earth Rangers, it’s our duty to leave lakes, rivers, ponds, and beaches cleaner than when we found them. Accept the Shoreline Saver mission on the Earth Rangers app, gather your friends and family, and have a shoreline clean up party near you! Remember, keeping shorelines clean not only protects turtles, but all kinds of marine and aquatic wildlife!