We had to walk for over 2 hours through a sea of rubbish, plastic bottles and faeces before getting to see the first turtle!
Have you ever been to a beach infested with human waste, plastic bottles and trash? Well, this beach is home to marine turtles, fishermen and children… and it’s a horrifying sight to see.
Over 100,000 turtles, birds and large ocean animals become trapped in nets and other garbage floating in the oceans, and die from plastic entanglement every year. Plastic harms marine species by causing wounds, skin lesions and ulcers after ingestion, reducing the quality of life and reproductive capacity.
Why did we start this project?
In January 2018, we went for a turtle monitoring session on beaches near Accra, in Ghana, and were hoping to see these beautiful animals come to shore to nest. We kept wishing to see baby turtles hatch from their eggs and hurry to the water, and had all these mental images of pristine beaches and clear waters.
One Ridley turtle had just started nesting and was digging a hole to lay her eggs. But the whole scene was a tragedy because of the thousands of plastic debris and trash surrounding the turtle’s nest. She actually had to keep pushing the plastic away to dig a whole. We started picking up the trash to give her some space, but there was so much of it that we just couldn’t do it alone.
We felt so sad for the turtle, but even more for her babies, starting life on such a dirty beach. They will have to fight against all the plastic and trash, just to survive before reaching the water. And once in the water, they might ingest plastic, mistaking it for food, and die before even becoming adult turtles.
We kept walking on the beach, and saw more dead turtles, who probably died by ingesting too much plastic.
Beyond the tragic sights of these turtle, we also got moved seeing how local communities have to put up with plastic piling up on the coast, and decided to help both turtles and people.
The huge amount of trash got us thinking about the bigger picture: How is this trash affecting the communities, families and children?
What is the impact on the people who eat fish caught in this area? How is the rest of the marine wildlife being affected?
How can we promote better waste management options to stop people from burning plastics, dumping trash unproperly ending up on beaches and oceans?
Plastic Punch was created by a team of multi-cultural professionals concerned about the environment.
Pictures by Eduardo Vasquez & Documentary by Thomas Lor