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16 Jun 2021

Fighting for Survival: WWF World Sea Turtle Day and the Importance of Removing Plastic from Our Oceans

Jake Self

 

Today marks the day for the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) World Sea Turtle Day. Of the seven species of sea turtle, six are currently under threat of extinction,1 especially the Hawksbill turtle, of which marine scientists believe there are only around 8000 left in our oceans. 2 

So, what is to blame? Essentially, humans are. It is currently estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into our oceans every year. These majestic marine navigators have been in our oceans for over 100 million years and now they need our help to survive.3 

Even under natural conditions without the threat of plastic pollution on beaches and in the water, hatchlings have around a 1 in 1000 survival rate to adulthood, with birds and crabs often eating them before they even make it from their nest to the water. Now add the threat of plastic pollution and the odds become even slimmer.

Why are Sea Turtles so Important? 

They might not look like apex predators, and they aren't, but they do play a vital role as predators of smaller sea creatures that keeps ocean ecosystems healthy. For example, the Hawksbill eats lots of sea sponge, which left untamed would challenge reef-building corals which are important for the survival of smaller marine species. The Leatherback turtle’s favourite dish is jelly fish, which keeps them from depleting fish numbers that are critical to the survival of other marine species. You could say they are like the charity workers of the sea.5 

So, what can we do to help? 

Of course, spreading the word about the importance of seas turtles is vital for their survival. People across the world need to know the importance of the issues we will face on land if sea creatures like turtles aren’t protected. There are also many other things you can do as an individual or with your school or organisation. Individually you can eat fresher foods that have less plastic packaging. The WWF also has a questionnaire that helps you measure your impact on the environment and gives helpful suggestions on how you can minimise it. As an organisation you can create your own fundraising event, take part in one of the WWF’s sporting events or even just incentivise staff to give their time through volunteering. 

Recycling and re-processing plastic waste is a big focus of RWM 2021. We have a dedicated Recycling and Re-processing theatre which will explore the latest technologies and machinery to process different materials to ultimately enable a more circular economy and divert reusable plastics away from landfills and ocean dump sites.  

This year at RWM one of our keynote speakers is the Sea Cleaners and their revolutionary Manta Project which could drastically change the tide in protecting our oceans.  

Register free today and discover more about this incredible project as well as many other expert seminars on the latest innovations in recycling and reprocessing.  


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