Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turtle Talk

On June 1st--thanks to an early morning call from my friend Ginger-- my kids and I went to the sea turtle release at Topsail Island.  It was only the second release that we've ever been to, but just like the first there's something so magical about watching the rehabilitated turtles get to go "home."  I swear the ocean is calling them... you can see it in how the turtles react.  Their excitement can't be contained... stretching, flapping, waving... longing to be back in the ocean.... I can only imagine how free they must feel as soon as they dive into the open water.... seriously, inspiring and magical.  If you've never been to see rehabilitated sea turtles released... listen to me... you MUST.
Ok... this is not my photo.  I did take photos at the release, but when "Remembrance" came out everyone swarmed and I couldn't get a photo.  Remembrance was found Memorial Day 2010 floating lifelessly in the waters off of Masonboro Island.  Just look at how full of life she is now!! :)  Photo by: Kevin Blevins
Going to the release on Wednesday was just the tip of what was to come for us last week.  During our "field trip" to Virginia, my family and Bonnie had the fortune to meet Christina.  Christina works with the Stranding Response Program.  After all of our tours (and lunch), we went to the stranding center for a private tour of the facility.... and we got to see lots of sea turtles!!! Now... I've been to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on a field trip with my son's school... BUT... a private tour is a completely different experience.  We got to take as much time as we wanted with every turtle and ask as many questions that we could think of... no worrying about the next person because there were no other people.  It was just us and the turtles.... :)

During our visit to the Stranding Facility, I was reminded of some of the reasons we are making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of plastic we use.  

Christina handed Bonnie this jar with fragments of plastic that had been ingested by sea turtles.  It's hard to turn away from the evidence that plastic is harming wildlife when it's held right in front of you.  Plastic pollution is a serious threat to all life... and it's something that each and everyone of us is connected to.  The companies that make the plastic products aren't going to change what they're doing anytime soon... the health and well-being of the life on this planet is of no importance to them.  $$ is where it's at.  If we want to change this-- animals eating plastic-- then it's up to us to start eliminating it from our lives.  If you haven't already... I challenge you to stop buying bottled water and start using a reusable bottle; stop taking plastic bags and start using reusables.  When you've given those up... find something else to eliminate. ;)

Another thing that Christina shared with us while at the stranding rehabilitation facility was this sea turtle made from balloons.  
If you don't know... when balloons are floating in water they take on the appearance of jellyfish.... sea turtles happen to love to eat jellyfish.  Could you imagine being a sea turtle... seeing what looked like a yummy jellyfish... gulping it down (of course, never knowing it really is an inedible balloon)... only to have your digestive tract blocked with plastic??  As soon as we learned of the horrible truths about what balloons do to sea turtles, we immediately stopped accepting them.  My kids haven't taken or accepted a balloon in years.  So... what can you do??  First, say "no thank you" when you're offered a balloon.  Second:  Never under any circumstances release balloons.  A released balloon is a littered balloon.  A littered balloon could end up being lunch for unknowing wildlife (and also poses a threat of entanglement).  Last year, volunteers of the Wrighsville Beach Sea Turtle Project offered some ideas on how to celebrate without releasing balloons such as releasing butterflies, planting a tree or planting a field of wildflowers.
Speaking of the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project... it's sea turtle nesting season.  Every morning volunteers go out to WB to look for sea turtle tracks.  As they're looking for tracks of nesting momma sea turtles, they're also picking up the litter that they find.  Ginger shares all of the emails she receives from the volunteers and is tallying everything on their new blog: Wrightsville Beach--- Keep It Clean.  So far they've picked up over 122 grocery-sized bags of litter. WHOA!!  I'm really loving that they're keeping track of what they're finding... BUT... what's really great about what they're doing is that they are encouraging everyone to join in helping keep Wrightsville Beach clean!  It's simple:  Go to WB.  Pick up litter.  Send an email with what you found and Ginger will add it to the totals.  For how to get involved check out the "History" at the bottom of the "KIC" blog.  Don't live near WB or near any beach... that's ok... you can still help by picking up the litter that you find in your local park... on a walk down the street... in a parking lot... wherever you are... you can help.

Do it for the turtles... for the dolphins... for the fish... for whatever it is you connect it for the ocean.  

"You don't have to live near the ocean for it to have an impact on you. And you don't have to live near the ocean for you to have an impact on it." 
~Jason Mraz