Plastic trash on beaches and in the open ocean is disrupting the normal nesting behavior of critically endangered leatherback sea turtles. For many years, we have been aware that these gentle giants regularly ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for the jellyfish that make up most of their diet. This video clip below documents a female leatherback struggling to dig her nest through plastic pollution on Matura Beach in Trinidad. Clearly, it is not just the current plastics we see on beaches that are a threat to wildlife, but also the accumulation of plastic bags, bottles, and bits intertwined into their habitat. Volunteers monitoring the leatherback nesting were able to remove the bottle so the nest could be dug deeper, but it bothers me knowing that plastic pollution is likely disrupting other nesting attempts by leatherbacks.
At the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, we are fighting locally to ban all disposable bags, regionally to ban plastic bags and removable plastic lids, and will be expanding our efforts internationally with the help of summer interns. Contact me to learn more.