Turtles & Plastic Waste

Recently I took a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When you hear “Florida” the first things that pop into your head are alligators and crocodiles. Even though we did see some alligators, another protected and beautiful creature native to Florida is the sea turtle. These turtles are Florida’s most majestic creatures ranging in size from the Olive Ridley, one of the smallest at 2.5 feet and weighing in at maximum of 100 pounds, to the Leatherback, one of Florida’s largest at 6 feet and weighing in at a maximum of 1400 pounds.

In 2016, Broward County’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program counted approximately 3,567 sea turtle nests, with each nest containing an estimated 100 eggs!

In the middle of the night, my mom got out of bed and left our hotel room in Florida for a walk, thinking she might see a turtle coming up on the beach. Through the night fogginess she thought that the dark figure with a glistening red light on its face was a sea turtle. But, as she crept forward it turned out to be a man lying down smoking a cigarette right next to a sign clearly stating the area was a Sea Turtle Nest and that littering is strictly enforced with jail time and an up to a $50,000 fine.

While California, a state with not very many sea turtles, is going crazy about trying to save marine life by attempting to ban all plastic straws, many people in Florida leave trash all over the beach. If a community such as ours cares about the less than a million sea turtles that we have left, then people in a state with so many sea turtles should care.

Maybe you have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch A.K.A. Trash Island. This is a mass of trash almost twice as big as Texas or in comparison about three times as big as France, where currents bring a lot of the trash that ends up in the ocean.

One man, Richart Sowa, had a very creative way of eliminating some waste by building an island of plastic bottles. His previous island was destroyed by a hurricane. He currently has an island made up of 150,000 plastic bottles he personally picked up. Many people would consider Richart a homeless person, but apparently plastic bottles in bags under wood pallets make a great home! Beside his own private island home near Cancun, he also has made a boat out of 1,000 plastic bottles.

If you want to continue using and discarding plastic either find another way to help save our sea turtles locally and nationally or get to work building your island!

Categories: Opinions