WORLD OCEANS DAY-SEA TURTLE RELEASE-Andrew Stelzer

06/08/04

This past Saturday was World Environment Day 2004, the theme of which was Wanted! Seas and Oceans: Dead or Alive. The UN released a report that Death and diseases caused by polluted coastal waters cost the global economy $12.8 billion every year, and More than 70 percent of the world's marine fisheries are fished up to or beyond their sustainable limit. U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) chief Klaus Toepfer said in Barcelona of the state of the planet; "There's not a lot of reason for celebration," largely because of the pollution of the worlds water bodies, human and animal populations may soon be at risk of complete extinction. Today, three days later, was world oceans day. At the Clearwater marine aquarium which is a rehabilitation center for sick or injured sea animals. TO celebrate world oceans day, the aquarium returned 3 sea turtles to their natural habitat. Fran Wazelle is a volunteer who helped nurse the turtles back to health.

ACT “The kim springly are the most endangered because they are losing their nesting grounds to hotels, development.� Were losing our beaches. When they do restoration on the beaches they bring in the wrong sand. Were losing soft sand. They’re not protected.�

Wazelle has volunteered at the aquarium for 8 years. Many of the turtles she cares for have tumors growing on their body, which she says are most likely from pollution. Although she is heartened by the increased attention people are paying to the destruction of the natural environment, she has seen a lot of damage done to Florida.

ACT “Florida a tourist state, see a nest respect it but get excited about it…if we lose our wildlife all we have is our beaches. Were destroying Florida, it was a dirt road to get to the beach. Sand key used to be a monstrous area.

The Grady white boat club volunteers to pick up the turtles, and bring them to Anclote Key where according to Dale Schmidt, the executive director of the aquarium, they quickly reacclimate to a life out of captivity. ACT-Dale Schumidt, exec director of Clearwater marine aquarium

“Turtles have an innate ability no matter how long they are out they can find their way back in nature, where as mammals cant do the same thing.�

There are 5 species of sea turtles in Florida, 5 on the east coast, and 4 on the west coast. Leatherback is only on east coast. The aquarium implants microchips under their skin microchips so that if the turtles are ever found they can determine how successful the rehabilitation program is.

ACT “One of the camp ridleys had fishing line, one had hooks in the mouth. Other things that happen is they get in the power plant

ACT “Our goal is not to keep them here it’s to let them go, we let 3 go today. Kemp ridleys are the most endangered.�

Plastic waste, like supermarket bags, kills up to one million seabirds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish yearly. An estimated 21 million barrels of oil run into the oceans every year from sources ranging from run-off from streets to ships flushing their tanks. Wazelle says people need to respect sea animals and their habitat, and also realize how few of some of these animals remain on earth.

ACT “When you go out in your boat you don’t have to go in 20 seconds, they get hit by boats..lagerheads will get hit, we had a very large female who was hit by boat. 1 out of every 1000 will lay eggs and reach maturity.� ACT “Coco was hit by a boat and her lip was split and she’s blind…I think a lot of boaters are but they are In a rush�

Schmidt says that the aquariums goal is to return the animals to the wild and educate the public, especially children, by letting them observe the healing and rehabilitation process.

ACT ‘The first thing we talk about is why is this animal here, and what happened to this animal, sp that people know to leave animals alone.�

ACT ‘It very important that we take care of the water, don’t use it as a trash can, sand dollars plucked from their family for ever. Or you may never see them again.�

Eighty percent of all pollution in the seas comes from land-based activities. By 2010, 80 percent of the world's population will live within 100 km (62.14 miles) of coastlines. One family visiting the Aquarium has been educated by their two children, who will be studying marine biology at Lakewood high school next year.

ACT “I think it’s a very serious issue…they are not telling us what they say. They are killing our oceans, who? I mean our government…I thin people don’t know the extent of it and the people dont get enough…there needs to be a concentrated effort to start caring about our oceans and our environment.�

ACT ‘The last government was ok, this one sucks, the republicans don’t care about the environment.�

ACT “People should know about the pollution and they are dying because of it…garbage..

for more information about the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, including summer programs, call 727-441-1790 or go to www.cmaquarium.org

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