By Brad Nahill, President, SEE Turtles
SEE Turtles is thrilled to renew our long partnership with Natural Habitat Adventures. Since our launch in 2008, Nat Hab has supported our sustainable travel initiatives tremendously, starting with collaborating on offering trips to research sea turtles in Baja California Sur, Mexico, with our partners at Red Travel Mexico. Nat Hab has also participated in our Too Rare To Wear campaign to end the trade in tortoiseshell products. By becoming one of SEE Turtles’ first Gold Sponsors of our new Sustainable Travel Sponsorship program, Nat Hab is supporting our efforts to reduce plastic waste in sea turtle habitats around the world, encouraging people to travel without creating plastic waste and continuing support for the Too Rare To Wear campaign.
Plastic pollution is a vast and growing problem for sea turtles and other ocean wildlife, coastal communities and tourist destinations. It is estimated that more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are in the ocean, impacting marine life and the fish people eat. Plastic impacts sea turtles at every stage of the life cycle, entangling them in the water and on land, contaminating beaches and impacting turtle nests and hatchlings. Floating plastic is often confused with one of sea turtle’s primary foods, jellyfish.
Responsible travelers can help by taking simple steps to reduce plastic waste. The easiest way is to bring along a reusable water bottle now that many airports and hotels have filtered water to fill up. Travelers can also participate in beach cleanups when visiting coasts (or just take a few minutes to do your own cleanup). Other ways to help include eating fresh food instead of packaged snacks and bringing your own toiletries to avoid using packaged soap and other items. Our Travelers Against Plastic website has additional tips for traveling plastic-free.
Travelers can also help end the tortoiseshell trade when traveling. Travelers are the largest market for products made from the shell of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and are often unaware that the products they purchase are tortoiseshell. When traveling to a place where these products may be sold, including Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, you can use our new SEE Shell App, which can identify these products with a photo taken from your phone. We also have a handy guide to learn how to identify these products and a pledge to avoid turtle products that travelers can sign.
Natural Habitat Adventures is a vital partner in helping to end the demand for wildlife products in the travel industry. SEE Turtles and Nat Hab collaborate with the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, which is working to educate the travel industry about this trade and how to reduce it. We appreciate Nat Hab’s tremendous support for wildlife conservation in destinations around the world through its partnerships with World Wildlife Fund, SEE Turtles and other conservation organizations.