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|About||Create awareness for ocean and watershed conservation and protection. Encourage respect for the plants and animals in these ecosystems.|
|Mission||We hope to create awareness of the dangers of using plastic shopping bags and encourage people to use reusable shopping bags.|
Plastic shopping bags are dangerous to marine ecosystems. Many ocean species confuse them for jellies or other invertebrates and attempt to eat them. Sea turtles are vulnerable to eating plastic bags along with sea birds. Also sea birds can easily get caught in plastic bags that are on the surfacePlastic bags in the ocean can look just like a jellyfish or other gelatinous creature, fooling loggerhead turtles into hunting them.
This case of mistaken identity, documented in the latest issue of the journal PLoS ONE, reveals how our garbage can hurt marine wildlife. Even if a turtle doesn’t ingest the bag, the effort to explore and grab it wastes the turtle’s energy and time.
BLOG: How Turtles Got Their Shells
Tomoko Narazaki and colleagues from the University of Tokyo outfitted the loggerhead turtles with 3D loggers and crittercams, which enabled the scientists to record all of the turtle action as the animals swam in open water.
Narazaki and his team discovered that the turtles rely on sight, rather than on sound or smell, to find and move toward gelatinous prey, such as jellyfish and other organisms. That’s bad news for the turtles, because a plastic bag looks just like a jellyfish when the bags are submerged in water.
That’s hard to imagine, but the bags tend to lose their shape and take on a more tubular form when submerged. As they float downward in the water, the plastic undulates, making the bag look just like a living, moving jellyfish. I’ve seen this before myself, and the resemblance is uncanny.
The discovery also suggests that loggerhead turtles may rely on jellyfish and similarly textured prey for food more than was previously theorized. Because these squishy organisms aren’t exactly jam packed with nutrients, they serve more as a snack for the turtles. But the turtles seem to go after them quite often during their swimming trips, and particularly during oceanic migrations.
Because of their Jello-like texture, such foods are easy for the turtles t