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Saving Sea Turtles

Iniyah with MEEC staff members and a sea turtle made from discarded plastic

I recently visited the Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) in Hollywood, Florida, to learn more about sea turtles. These reptiles play an important role in keeping our oceans healthy. For one thing, they eat sea grass, which needs to be cut continually so that other marine animals can thrive. 

Unfortunately, sea turtles around the world are being threatened by pollution, climate change, and human carelessness. Of the seven species of sea turtle in the world, five are endangered. 

At the MEEC, I met a green sea turtle named Captain. She was hit by a boat in 2010. As a result, she can no longer swim in the ocean on her own. She lives in a pool, where she naps and eats lettuce and cucumber sandwiches.


Baby sea turtles leave their burrows, and head for the ocean. 


Artificial lighting poses a particular threat to baby turtles. Female turtles seek dark places to lay their eggs, burying them in holes that they cover with sand and mud. 

Bright lights can scare the turtles from coming ashore. When baby turtles see the artificial lighting, they can become disoriented, wandering inland instead of heading into the ocean. 



Discarded plastic is also harmful to turtles. Each year, hundreds of sea turtles die after being stranded in fishing gear and other debris that is not biodegradable.

“People don’t realize that even if you don’t live near the beach or go near the ocean, there’s a lot you can do to help sea turtles,” says Kelly Martin, an MEEC program coordinator. When it comes to plastic, there are three important words to remember: reduce, reuse, and recycle. 






Photos courtesy of the author