Coast KZN

17 Jan 2018

Turtles on Christmas Island battle against pollution

Kavitha Pillay Picture: Turtle stuck in pollution. (Photo: BBC Earth/ Facebook)

While most humans across the world attempt to decrease their carbon footprint and plastic use, while also increasing their recycling efforts, animals around the world continue to suffer due to pollution.

This is particularly a major concern for sea animals who are faced with mass pollution of the ocean. Research proves the alarming extent to which human products – especially plastic – is not recycled and gathers to form collections as large as continents in the ocean.

In an effort to save the ocean from plastic pollution, more organisations are taking steps to reduce plastic use, with some restaurants in SA no longer giving customers straws with drinks and bags with take-aways.

However, while this is a small step for change, it is not enough to make a substantial difference to the plight of the animals who now have to live in human trash.

A heart-wrenching BBC Earth video attempts to further drive home the message of ocean pollution by showing how piles of debris have collected on Christmas Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, between Indonesia and Australia.

What’s heartbreaking about this waste collection is that it makes it extremely difficult for turtles to nest on the plastic-filled beach, and for the hatchlings to dig their way out of piles of dirt to get to the ocean.

The turtle in the video took five hours to get past the debris and back to the beach – a trip that usually takes turtles two or three hours on non-polluted islands.

According to Dr Hung-Chang Liu, who was conducting research on the island when he noticed turtle hatchlings struggling to get through the pollution, since 2013, debris on the island has increased “five-fold”. For now, his solution to assist the animals is through regular beach clean-ups.