By Jezebel Handel
Today, June 16, World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated, in honor of Archie Carr, the greatest conservationist of sea turtles.
Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that inhabit all tropical oceans and, although they are exclusively marine, they touch land to nest.
Like all living things, sea turtles are part of an ecosystem; in this case, corresponding to the seafarer. However, as a result of some unethical tourism and commercial businesses, which are only looking to make a profit, as well as plastic pollution in the oceans, many of them are being abused, hunted and trapped by fishing nets.
There are discarded or lost fishing nets, commonly known as "ghost gear", that can lurk in our oceans for up to 600 years and that turn out to be one of the greatest and most powerful threats to the well-being of our marine animals. In fact, more than 817 different species of marine life have been affected so far.
Most of this type of equipment is made of plastics that take centuries to degrade, making them incredibly durable. As a consequence, animals such as turtles suffer a prolonged and painful death, as most die of hunger or suffocation over several months.
For this reason, the World Animal Protection organization is carrying out strong work together with multiple actors and in several countries, in order to come together to create a truly global change that reduces marine litter and prevents the suffering of animals.
Cruelty at tourist attractions
As part of this commitment to protect turtles and other marine fauna, the NGO is focusing on requiring companies such as TripAdvisor and Carnival Cruise to stop selling tickets to tourist sites, such as the Cayman Islands Turtle Center, due to that offer activities in which thousands of endangered sea turtles live in deplorable conditions (see campaign).
At this tourist attraction, sea turtles are kept in overcrowded, shallow tanks and feed on an unnatural diet. These unnatural conditions have generated abnormal behaviors in the turtles, such as aggression and even cannibalism. The most interesting thing is that tourists who visit the center are often unaware of the abuse and suffering that these animals experience when they handle them.
This center also raises turtles to provide their meat to people and restaurants throughout the island, a fact that also puts the lives of thousands of people at risk. It should be noted that this activity is among the ten most cruel wildlife attractions, according to World Animal Protection.
For these reasons, we must continue to strengthen our daily commitment as tourists and consumers. In what way? After previously researching what attractions are offered in the places we visit and then informing us about how animals are treated in those places. It is important to find out if they are used or not for entertainment activities, look for photos that allow us to see if they are removed from their habitat or if sightings are made respecting their environment, among many other aspects to take into account.
Let's not forget that responsibility begins with us and that each grain of sand brings great advances in the world.