I Like Turtles, And So Should You

         I love animals. Not only are they adorable, but they are so important to keeping the planet green and beautiful. This past summer, I went to Costa Rica with the Servicio en las Americas group, which was absolutely incredible. I think my favorite part was our final destination, which was Playa Blanca; for those of you who don’t speak Spanish, that means white beach. While we were in Playa Blanca, we spent two days lying on the beach, reapplying sunscreen, reading our shared novels, and, oh yeah, tagging sea turtles. Turtles! How did I get so lucky? They were the highlight of the five-week program. In Costa Rica, there are five types of turtles: loggerheads, hawksbills, leatherbacks, olive ridleys, and green sea turtles. We tagged them, cleaned any cuts, and took tissue samples, which was ridiculously cool. But why the heck did we do this?

Well, turtles are on the way to extinction. Yes, EXTINCTION. These cute little guys are dying out because people are eating them, as well as their eggs. In certain parts of the world, they are a delicacy, but this is really illegal to do, especially in Costa Rica. Yes, that’s a little harsh, but it’s not the only reason. Fishermen who go out daily to catch whatever they need usually don’t use turtle-safe practices. The turtles end up getting stuck in the nets and are unable to survive out of the water for extended periods of time, so they end up dying. We are also throwing ridiculous amounts of trash into the oceans, and this is no one’s fault but our own.

The unnecessary plastic bags, plastic straws, and single-use plastics in general are simply not helpful. Sea turtles mistake a plastic bag for a jellyfish, and the straws just go straight up their nose. In order to help keep these wonderful creatures safe and healthy, we should refrain from littering all of our plastic on the beach. Yes, it is good for the environment that we are cutting back on plastic use, but we’ve got to expand this. Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your next door neighbor; tell them that there is not a long way from cup to mouth. They don’t really need that straw. I mean, you do like turtles, right?