Sea Turtles & Plastic
If there is a poster species for the worldwide epidemic of plastic pollution, it’s sea turtles. The mothers swim through islands of plastic on their migrations and crawl through plastic to find their spots to nest on beaches. Nests are impacted by toxic microplastic particles and hatchlings crawl back through macroplastic on their way to the water. They confuse plastic bags and balloons for their favorite food, jellyfish. Straws can get stuck in their noses and plastic spoons stuck in their throat. They get caught in six pack rings and ghost fishing gear. It’s inescapable.
SEE Turtles believes the long-term solution is ending single use plastic. But even if all plastic production was to stop today, millions of tons would still be floating in the ocean, impacting sea turtles, other ocean wildlife, and humans. We will advocate for ending the use of plastic through our platforms while searching for ways to help get this waste out of sea turtle habitat, in ways that support conservation efforts and local communities and reusing this waste into useful products.
Our Plastic Campaign
SEE Turtles has been educating people about the threat of plastic waste since our founding in 2008. We have also supported a number of projects that have helped communities reduce plastic in sea turtle habitats (see below).
Our new campaign will focus on the following activities:
Working with conservation organizations around the world to reduce plastic in sea turtle habitats. We are raising funds to support new projects by sea turtle conservation organizations, see below for grants made to date.
Advocating for less plastic use. Recycling and upcycling can only take us so far, to truly clean the oceans, we need to stop the flow of plastic in our economy. Through our social media, email newsletters, website and through Travelers Against Plastic, we will encourage people to reduce plastic at home while advocating for governments and businesses to take strong actions to reduce the creation of plastic in the first place.
Projects Funded To Date:
Fundacao Principe (Principe Island): This project supports two women-led efforts from two communities. By supporting these initiatives, we will reduce the pressure on turtle hunting and plastic consumption on the island with the collection and repurposing of the plastic that is washed ashore, recycling plastic flip-flops into jewelry and plastic bags into rugs and with the production of reusable menstrual pads and supporting menstrual poverty eradication. $5,000 grant (Sep 2022)
Juara Turtle Project (Malaysia): Juara will upgrade their machinery to enable additional onsite plastic waste recycling and improve the recycling center infrastructure to be able to keep up with the supply of plastic waste collected from Tioman island. This saves the community money, avoids carbon emissions, and provides economic benefits for local residents while keeping beaches and waters cleaner. $5,000 grant (July 2022).
Karumbe (Uruguay): The Plastic Free Turtles project works with communities to clean up beaches in one of the areas that has the most impact on sea turtles, as many as 70% of juvenile green turtles feeding in these waters have been found ingesting plastic. This project connects conservation efforts with the community through beach cleanups, with the waste being recycled. $7,500 grant (March 2022).
Eco Mayto (Mexico): This project works with 5 communities along the Pacific coast to collect plastic that would be burned and to keep plastic off of turtle nesting beaches. The money raised by the sale of these products will support turtle conservation and local community members. $5,000 grant (Jan 2022).
COBEC (Kenya): Community-Based Environmental Conservation is leading efforts to get plastic off the beach and out of the water while turning it into useful products that benefit local residents. So far, they have recycled more than 2 tons of plastic waste, provided benefits for more than 300 residents, and reduced the number of turtles impacted by plastic waste. Our grant will allow COBEC to expand their outreach, conduct cleanups, and purchase new equipment. $5,000 grant (Dec 2021).
Green Phenix (Curacao): This innovative social enterprise is helping reduce plastic waste on this Caribbean island. This grant will help conduct beach cleanups and purchase the equipment needed to turn this waste into new products, which will benefit the juvenile green turtles living in Curacao’s waters, create new jobs for local residents, and help the project become self-sustaining. $5,000 grant (Nov 2021).
Research Center for Environmental Management and Development (CIMAD) (Colombia): This organization works with local communities to protect biodiversity in Colombia. This grant is helping to launch a new project that will train women in the rural community of Pangui to recycle plastic bags into handbags that will both reduce plastic pollution and provide a new source of income to local families and sea turtle conservation efforts. $5,000 grant (Nov 2021).
Learn More About Plastic: