World Sea Turtle Day, June 16, is a day used to honor and highlight the importance of sea turtles. These creatures, like any other creature, are magnificent in their own way. Not only are sea turtles beautiful animals, but they also show incredible perseverance and resiliency– after all, they have been nesting on beaches for millions of years. So of course they deserve their own day dedicated to their awesomeness!
World Sea Turtle Day would not be rightfully celebrated without mentioning, Dr. Archie Carr, STC’s founder and “father of sea turtle biology.” World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated the same day as Dr. Carr’s birthday, June 16. Dr. Carr will forever be remembered for the enhancement of the sea turtle conservation movement and the legacy he has left behind. His research and advocacy brought the attention to the threatening conditions that continue to impact sea turtles. His work highlighted the issue and helped create the community that continues to strive for a better life and future for sea turtles.
Dr. Carr realized early on what many know today about the importance of sea turtles. Sea turtles perform many important tasks that contribute to the well-being of sea life and the environment. For example, leatherbacks and hawksbills sea turtles help keep the populations of jellyfish and sponges in check. Green sea turtles on the other hand eat sea grass. Like regular grass, sea grass needs to be kept short to ensure it’s healthy and that it continues to grow along the ocean. Without sea turtles, grass beds will grow into grass blades and become detrimental to marine life. Grass beds provide a place for breeding and development for many species of fish. Assuring the upkeep of these grass beds is crucial to keeping marine animals healthy.
Sea turtles are ancient animals that have been around since the time of dinosaurs. Although they have been around for millions of years, they’ve remained mostly unchanged. It is important that we continue to do what is necessary to preserve these magnificent animals that have been around for 110 million years to guarantee that they stick around for another 110 million years.
It is important that we all do what we can to help celebrate World Sea Turtle Day. The Sea Turtle Conservancy will be spending June 14, from 12-4 p.m., at the Florida Museum of Natural History for The World Sea Turtle Day Celebration. Children and families are welcomed to come tour the museum’s sea turtle exhibits with STC. There, STC staff will give “Turtle Tours,” to help educate people about sea turtles and their habitats. Kids will have a chance to create fun turtle crafts, play turtle trivia, meet sea turtle scientists and researchers from the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at UF. The event will have sea turtle specimens, free stickers and bookmarks for all the kids that join STC. The event is free and open to the public.
If you can’t join STC on June 14, here is a list of things you can do to celebrate sea turtles any day of the year:
Turn off your lights. If you live in a beach-front residence, turn your lights off. Lights cause nesting and hatchling turtles to wander. Simple thing like closing your blinds, turning off your lights or using sea turtle friendly lighting encourages nesting and helps hatchlings go in the right direction.
Clean up the beach. Remove any waste from beaches that might hinder a turtle’s nesting. A clean beach will ensure that turtles have a clean nesting ground. Also, knock down sand castles and fill in holes so that the ground is flat and there is nothing in the way of hatchlings when they’re making their way to the ocean.
Recycle. Plastic that ends up in the ocean gets eaten up by turtles because they believe the plastic is jellyfish. Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris. So buying and using products that decrease the use of plastic helps tremendously.
Spread the word. Not everybody knows that June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day. So tell your friends and family, post it on Facebook and Twitter and invite everyone to spread the word about sea turtles and the ways they can celebrate this awesome day with you and STC! What will you do to celebrate?