Rising plastic pollution is hurting sea turtles along Gulf Coast
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama (WKRG) – Rising plastic pollution is hurting sea turtles along the Gulf Coast.
Share the Beach volunteers, who monitor nests and hatchlings on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, say they’ve seen an increase in plastic pollution along beaches this nesting season.
“Plastic, once it gets into water, produces what’s called biofouling and that’s where tiny microorganisms and objects attach themselves to and produce an odor. It smells like food to sea turtles, so anything that smells like it is going to bite and eat it and they can’t process it. Over time, this slowly affects their overall health, ”says Sara Johnson, director of Share the Beach.
Share the Beach patrols the beaches for nests and hatchlings from May to October each year.
They concentrate their efforts on the shore of Florobama to the western end of Dauphin Island.
So far this season, 26 nests have been laid on Alabama beaches by sea turtles.
Johnson says it’s less than in previous years, and it begs the question of whether plastic pollution is contributing to shrinking nests and sea turtles.
Johnson says the best thing we can do to protect turtles and reduce plastic pollution is to reduce our use of plastic.
“There is still a strong push for recycling, but reducing our use of plastic in general will be our biggest impact on all of this,” Johnson says.
Anyone visiting Alabama beaches is also encouraged to keep a safe distance from sea turtles and never disturb a nest.
Click here for more information and advice on Share the Beach.