Increasing plastic pollution harming sea turtles along the Gulf Coast

A Turtle's Journey

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) – Increasing plastic pollution is harming sea turtles along the Gulf Coast.

Volunteers with Share the Beach, who monitor nests and hatchlings on the Alabama Gulf Coast, say they have seen an increase in plastic pollution along the beaches this nesting season.

Plastic pollution bitten by sea turtles found along Alabama beaches (Source: Share the Beach)

“Plastic, once it gets into the water, does something called biofouling and that’s where tiny microorganisms and things attach to them and produce a smell. That smells like food to sea turtles so anything that has that scent they are going to bite it and eat it and they can’t process it. Over time, that slowly impacts their overall health,” says Sara Johnson, the Director of Share the Beach.

Share the Beach patrols the beaches for nests and hatchlings from May through October every year.

They focus their efforts on the Florobama shoreline all the way to the west end of Dauphin Island.

So far this season, 26 nests have been laid on Alabama beaches by sea turtles.

Johnson says this is less than previous years, and it raises the question if plastic pollution is contributing to the decrease in nests and sea turtles.

Johnson says the best thing we can do to protect the turtles and cut down on plastic pollution, is reduce our plastic-use.

“There is always a big push for recycling but reducing our plastic use in general is going to be our biggest impact to all of this,” says Johnson.

Anyone visiting Alabama beaches is also encouraged to keep a safe distance away from sea turtles and never disturb a nest.

Click here for more information and tips from Share the Beach.

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