17/01/2017

Marine Pollution and Sea Turtles

The oceans, the seas and that of closed seas, such as the Mediterranean, play key roles in the life and development of our planet. Specifically, the Mediterranean and the coastal areas, which host unique ecosystems, plants and animals and many visitors. Due to this high number of visitors, the Mediterranean encounters the serious problem of pollution. Marine pollution can be defined as the human input, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the marine environment, which causes a variety of deleterious effects; including harm to living resources, risks to human health, the reduction of marine water quality and a hindrance to marine activities, such as fishing. 80% of the total marine pollution is originally land-based waste water and this contributes to the global problem of pollution and its enormous environmental impacts.

thalassia-rypansh-kai-xelwnes-marine_pollution.jpg

Caretta caretta sea turtles spend 99.9% of their life in the water, except females, which during the period of nesting will leave the water to go onto beaches; to identify those appropriate for nesting. Before they reach the stage of nesting, the mating season occurs, which is when female and male turtles approach the nesting beaches at a close proximity. Therefore, the trash on the nesting beaches threatens hatchlings and they become deadly traps. The litter prevents the hatchlings from quickly reaching the sea, and makes them weak in front of their predators, such as sea birds and crabs. Finally, it is significant to note that plastics break down into smaller pieces over time, depending on the conditions in which it is located. Henceforth, this means that the disappearance of plastics within the environment is becoming increasingly difficult and harmful.

It is becoming clear that it is necessary to realize that the protection of the marine environment is not just the responsibility of governments, but primarily individual. The development of ecological consciousness will allow individuals to realize the presence and importance of human-nature interrelationships. At an individual level, there are many ways in which we can become allies of the environment, such as through volunteering. For 33 years, the volunteer organization ARCHELON has continued to operate Public Awareness Program surrounding the protection of Caretta caretta nests. Ultimately, the reduction and management of marine pollution, and that of its sources, is everyone’s responsibility.

Anna Lamaj, Zakynthos Project Leader

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