“Rise Above Plastics" Partnership Effort of Surfrider, Sea Turtle Conservancy, & Mel Beach
Surfrider, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Certon & Town Partner to “Rise Above Plastics"
More information click on Beachcomber Newsletter July 2015
Melbourne Beach’s seaside location and its proximity to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, make it a prime location for efforts to reduce the use of plastics, in general, and of single-use plastic bags specifically. The Refuge is the most important site for loggerhead sea turtles in the Western Hemisphere and, possibly, the world and has the highest nesting densities in Florida. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the impact of plastics on our marine environment cannot be overstated.
• It is estimated that there are 100 million tons of plastic in oceans around the world. It is expected that another 30 million tons will be produced this year alone, much of which will also end up in our oceans.
• Eighty percent of the plastic debris comes from land. It washes out to sea from our beaches, streets and highways. It flows out through storm drains into streams and rivers. It flies away from landfills and into the stomachs of sea turtles everywhere.
• Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.
• Sea turtles are especially susceptible to the effects of consuming marine debris due to their bodies' own structure. They have downward facing spines in their throats which prevent the possibility of regurgitation. The plastics get trapped in their stomach, which prevents them from properly swallowing food.
• Sea turtles often mistakenly injest floating single-use plastic bags due to their uncanny similarity to jellyfish (their primary food source).
• In a study conducted in Brevard and Volusia Counties in Florida, scientists, who examined the gut contents from both living and nonliving stranded loggerhead turtles in those counties, found that 100 percent of the 94 turtles examined had plastics in their gut contents. Another study conducted in the Gulf Stream Sargassum examined dead post-hatchlings which were left stranded following storms in the same area, and found that almost 100 percent of all the turtles examined had suffered from plastic ingestion. While recycling plastics, including single-use plastic bags, is better than burning them in incinerators or burying them in landfills, even the plastics recycling process is not without harmful effects on human and environmental health. Plastic is melted during the recycling process which causes it to break down and release the chemicals used to make it, including dioxins, into the environment. The best option, according to the EPA is to reduce use.