Turtles in the Turtle Rehabilitation Programme at the V&A Aquarium. Picture: Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)
Turtles in the Turtle Rehabilitation Programme at the V&A Aquarium. Picture: Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

Humans have to reduce global plastic dependency to save the planet’s turtles

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Jul 30, 2021

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Cape Town - It is ocean villains versus ocean superheroes in the race to reduce the amount of plastic in the oceans.

In an endeavour to highlight the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles, the Two Oceans Aquarium, Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, Consol Glass and the V&A Waterfront, will be hosting a #SaveOurTurtles Ocean Superheroes activation.

The activation will be taking place from July 29 until August 2 at the Centre Court of the V&A Waterfront to raise awareness for the plight of sea turtles, to inform people about what they can do to ensure the survival and future health of the marine environment, and to raise funds for the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation’s sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme.

Two Oceans Aquarium spokesperson Renée Leeuwner said all sea turtle species were endangered or critically endangered with only one or two out of a thousand hatchlings making it to adulthood and thousands killed every year through human activities.

“It is therefore vitally important to rehabilitate and release sea turtles to ensure the survival of the species. But it is also vital for people to know about the threats and dangers sea turtles face,

“Every single person can contribute to the health of the ocean by reducing their dependence on plastic, and choosing more sustainable packaging materials and products that are sold with either less plastic, or no plastic,” said Leeuwner.

Foundation executive chairperson Ann Lamont said, “In 2021, 71% percent of the turtles that have been rescued and are being rehabilitated by the Aquarium Foundation’s programme, have ingested plastic. Our most recent arrival, a beautiful 50kg loggerhead turtle named Nobomvu, was tangled in a ghost fishing net.”

AfriOceans Conservation Alliance chief executive officer Lesley Rochat said awareness efforts such as this activation were essential as plastic pollution was the oceans' new cancer and it was estimated that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by weight.

Rochet said plastics break down into micro-plastics, which often get ingested by sea animals such as sea turtles, many of them becoming entangled and millions dying every year as a result.

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Cape Argus

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