May 19th is Endangered Species Day, and what better way to celebrate than by helping endangered wildlife in our area. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there are five different species of sea turtles that are either endangered or threatened in Virginia: Loggerhead sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, and the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, which is the most endangered and rarely seen.
One of the major threats to sea turtles is marine pollution and debris, especially plastics. Sea Turtle Conservancy estimates that over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean, and more than 80% of this plastic comes from land. Polluted waterways kill off a sea turtle’s natural food source and plastic debris is commonly mistaken for food. This is a problem you can help solve.
How you can help:
- Reduce your use of plastic in addition to reusing and recycling. A great way to start is to avoid using plastic straws and politely request no straw with your drink order.
- Properly dispose of trash and make sure it is secure to prevent fly-away plastic debris
- Host or participate in a beach clean-up event
- Do not leave behind any fishing gear, line, or netting. If you bring it in, take it out.
- Reduce marine pollution by using less chemical fertilizers
- Avoid releasing balloons into the air
- Be aware when out on the water, especially in a boat. Sea turtles are hard to spot and can be critically injured by boat propellers.
- When in nature, don’t leave any items behind, and leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.