Turtles have been around for hundreds of millions of years, some species out-dating dinosaurs. Back then, there were many millions of sea turtles living in our oceans. Now there are only seven species left and they are all either endangered or threatened.
Much of this loss of life is because of humans. We are the worst foe. Through pollution of our oceans with chemicals, loss of nesting grounds because of humans building on, changing, and inhabiting beaches, poaching of turtle eggs, poaching of turtles for their leather or shells, and, most of all, because of the trash we dump in the seas, humans are killing off sea turtles.
So when Seaweek was announced, New Zealand’s annual national week about the sea, I decided to write a poem all about this. A poem to spread awareness about sea turtles and what we are doing to them. Since then, this poem has won prizes in two competitions, but what made me happiest was when we sent it to the Auckland Zoo.
Late in August, an endangered hawksbill turtle was found washed up on a beach in Northland. It was taken to Auckland Zoo animal hospital and was in intensive care for 13 days. The vet, Lydia Uddstrom, tried her best, but the turtle died even after she had done everything in her ability. After the turtle had died, vets dissected its stomach and confirmed their fears. The hawksbill sea turtle had digested more than a litre of plastic trash, including plastic bags, popped balloons, and other forms of rubbish.
I heard about this and I was lucky enough to get in contact with Lydia through email. I sent her my poem and asked about the turtles she had seen and looked after, especially the hawksbill. We had a lovely conversation and she asked if she could share my poem on the Zoo’s Facebook page with some cartoon additions and my words. I gave her permission and my video went out into the world. Hopefully this has helped to raise further awareness to a larger audience.
Everyone can do their bit in saving our sealife. Plastic bags are the biggest threat to turtles as these look like jellyfish if they make it into the sea. So please support shops that don’t use plastic bags, or just bring your own reusable bags. We can all make a difference.
Ella Simmons, Year 8