Some of you may know that the Wild Equity Institute is helping draft new regulations to protect leatherback sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island nation in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. Trinidad has the 2nd largest nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles on Earth, and WEI is helping ensure that the population remains robust.
But the ways our lifestyles impact the leatherback sometimes confound even the most elegantly drafted rules. On April 27, 2010, a nesting leatherback sea turtle was digging her nest at Matura Beach in Trinidad when a wholly unnatural sound came from her nesting hole. The turtle had struck a plastic bottle four feet under the sand, jeopardizing her nesting attempt.
This was particularly disheartening because hundreds of volunteers had recently scoured the beach picking-up thousands of pieces of plastic trash to prepare the beach for turtle nesting season. This particular bottle may have been buried long ago, so the volunteers couldn’t have found it.
Fortunately quick action by WEI collaborators at Nature Seekers removed the bottle and the turtle was able to complete its nesting cycle.
Our plastic trash ends up in the darnedest places, and often reaches new territory before our regulations do. WEI isn’t one to normally sweat the small stuff, but this one is a no brainer: kick the plastic habit and use reusable cups and bags. Future generations of leatherback sea turtles are counting on it.