Sea turtles, like all marine animals, are crucial to maintaining the health of our ecosystems. Unfortunately, all species of sea turtles are either endangered or threatened. This means that all sea turtles face the threat of extinction; an endangered species is one that is on the brink of extinction, while a threatened species is one that is likely to be on the brink of extinction. 

Sea turtles help in maintaining the health of our oceans through actions like grazing on seagrass beds and eating sponges from coral reefs. Green sea turtles, some of which are native to the Hawaiian islands, are one of the main sea turtles that graze on seagrass. This grazing increases seagrass productivity and nutrient content, which helps prevent the growth of molds on the seafloor. Hawksbill sea turtles help maintain habitats, like coral reefs, by eating sponges from reefs and allowing corals and other animals to colonize that space. There are many other benefits that sea turtles offer ecosystems, so it is vital we do what we can to help keep them in the food web.

In this month’s action asks, we are focusing on ways to help protect these magnificent creatures through changes in our everyday behaviors and actions:

  1. Bring reusable tote bags with you when buying groceries and shopping

  2. Go to a commercial car wash or wash your car with eco-friendly/homemade products 

  3. Clean up your neighborhood and local beaches 

Plastic bags too often find their way to the ocean where sea turtles, especially loggerheads and green sea turtles, mistake them for common foods in their diet, such as jellyfish and algae. By reducing your use of single use plastics and picking up litter, you can prevent plastics from ending up inside sea turtles. Research has shown that ingesting plastics can lead to death, poor health, reduced growth rates, and decreased rates of reproduction in sea turtles. Choosing to forgo single use plastics, such as plastic bags, water bottles, straws, utensils, and many other plastic products, can help save turtles’ lives. The same can be said by making sure any trash you see is properly disposed of; stormwater runoff sweeps all the litter outside into our oceans, where sea turtles and other animals can mistake the garbage for food. Check out our recycling guide to make sure you are disposing of your trash properly.

As we enter spring, many of us find ourselves wanting to clean our cabinets, floors, closets, and cars. However, the runoff from car washing travels from your driveway, to storm drains, and into our ocean to pollute the waters with unsafe chemicals. Instead of using harsh chemicals, opt for eco-friendly alternatives when cleaning your car, and try to wash your car on grassy areas instead of pavement. Washing cars on grassy areas allows the grass to soak up some of the soap before it gets to gravel and into storm drains, and washing cars with eco-friendly cleaners keeps our oceans and marine life safe from dangerous chemicals. If possible, it is better to get your car washed at a commercial car wash because it reduces the amount of water used as well as the amount of water that gets into storm drains. The water at commercial car washes is often recycled, and they can contain the harsh cleaning chemicals used instead of having it all go down a storm drain and into the ocean. 

Let’s do our part in keeping our oceans clean and our sea turtles healthy!