The Leatherback turtle is an ancient reptile that has existed, almost unchanged, since before the dinosaurs. A small group of Leatherbacks travel the Pacific, from as far away as Papua New Guinea looking for jelly fish on the Central Coast. They arrive in late summer, early fall, along the California coast.
The number of Leatherbacks were higher this year in California because the number of Pacific sea nettle jellies were greater.
The Leatherback Watch Program, organized by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, are trying to study and protect this species of turtle, and are starting a habitat along the coast of California. The habitat includes 46,000 square miles of California coastal waters from Point Arena to Point Vincente.
From the Spring of 2007 to present, Save Our Shores cleanup volunteers have removed over 27,000 plastic bags from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Plastic is not biodegradable, is made of toxic chemicals and petroleum. In the marine environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that absorb toxic chemicals and are ingested by sea animals, including the Leatherback turtles.
Around 100 billion petroleum based plastic checkout bags are used each year in the United States, requiring an estimated 12 million barrels of oil each year. A ban on plastic bags would help preserve the integrity of our local ecosystems, reduce the burden on landfills, and cut back litter in our communities.
Reusable shopping bags are a great way to reduce the amount of plastic bags being produced and distributed in our communities. Even if you do not live near a coastal city, eco friendly reusable bags prevents the plastic bags from blowing out of trash cans, into sewer systems, and ultimately out to our river systems and oceans.
Even if your city does not have a ban on plastic bags yet, using recyclable grocery bags will diminish the amount of plastic bags distributed, therefore reducing the amount of plastic bags in our community.
For more on this story, go to The Monterey County Weekly.