Researchers estimate that there are 100 million tons of plastic in the Earth’s oceans. In some areas, the plastic accumulation spans over 5 million square miles. The equivalent of the U.S. and India combined. It washes out from our beaches, streets and highways. It blows out of a landfill only to end up inside a sea turtle’s stomach.
Two key items that the Marina Trash Skimmer collects are plastics and oil. We know that both of these have been inarguably linked to damaging coral reef and the deaths of marine life. Sea turtles are vulnerable to ocean pollution at every life stage, from eggs to adulthood.
1. Marine debris looks like food to a hungry turtle.
Over 100 million sea turtles, seabirds and other marine mammals die each year from pollution and marine debris. Scientists have an explanation for why this is so common in sea turtles, it is their own body structure. The esophagus is lined with hundreds of fleshy spines called papillae. These spines allow the turtle to keep food down while allowing water to be spit back out.
The problem is that these spines also trap plastic bags and other debris in the stomach, causing the turtle to not be able to ingest anymore food so they eventually starve to death. But why would they eat a plastic bag? Because it looks like a jellyfish!
A study found that more than 1,000 sea turtles die every year after becoming entangled in debris such as plastic six pack holders and discarded fishing gear. These are just the turtles we find washed ashore, scientists believe many more die in the bottom of the ocean and are never recovered.
Entanglement can lead to severe abrasions and even loss of limbs. It also causes turtles to drown or be caught by larger predators. This happens in various types of marine debris, including packaging and ghost nets (lost fishing gear). Another sad ending is that the debris eventually becomes biofouled – that is, covered in microorganisms and plants – attracting ocean grazers and predators like sea turtles. They either ingest it or become caught up in it, both leading to eventual death.
3. Habitat Degradation
It has been well documented that plastics in marine environments is leading to the degradation of turtle habitats. From nesting beaches to our coral reefs, the effects are devastating. Nesting mother sea turtles are forced to lay their eggs on top of trash heaps, and hatchlings are dying trying to navigate through the debris to get to the ocean. Coral reefs are being suffocated by plastic pollution, decreasing the abundance of habitat and available food for marine life.
Take Action Today
All of this devastation makes the solution seem impossible, but Marina Accessories doesn’t believe that. There are things we can do every day to save sea turtles. One way is to refuse single serve plastics, or reuse and recycle the ones you do use. Beach cleanups are also a great way to make an impact, find one in your local community here.
While our Marina Trash Skimmers won’t completely solve the issue of marine pollution, they are making an impact on the amount of debris entering the waters where they are installed.
Marina Trash Skimmers are working tirelessly 24/7 around the world to clean up the debris that has already ended up in our waters. Designed for the removal of pollutants on a commercial scale, the Skimmer filters 375 gallons of water per minute. Half Moon Marina in California, collected 6,425 gallons of debris in an 8 month period. Water that was hazy when the Skimmer was installed is now clear enough to see the basin bottom.
Ask us how you can be a part of the solution with your own Skimmer.