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Looking good at 70 on a diet of seaweed - Just like a Green Sea Turtle

by Pia Winberg June 16, 2021

Looking good at 70 on a diet of seaweed - Just like a Green Sea Turtle

Today is World Sea Turtle Day, so it is timely to consider just how good you too could look at 70 to 100 on a diet of green seaweed, like  Chelonia mydas (wet tortoise)  the Green Turtle. 

A most ancient, long-lived and patient marine friend. 

We refer to them as marine friends because the Green Turtles are also seaweed farmers of sorts, living and grazing the freshest most nutritious tips of seaweed in an area, and supporting its regrowth.

However, let’s not forget that the short-lived existence of humans on earth has been potent enough to threaten the existence of one of the longest-lived monarchs of our seas. 

A great ancestor to the green turtle existed as long as 72 million years ago, where remains were found in Mexico. 

Compare that to more distant ancestors of ours which are found from about 20 million years ago. 

Just 14 pieces of human pollution in a turtle gut tips the balance point towards death, and this seems like such a mundane and unworthy end to a life that has graced our oceans for so long.

And remember, green turtle need to breathe air like us - so if they get tangled in fishing gear they drown. 

The green turtle is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES, and the reasons are ones that we can turn around - let’s just ….

  1. not eat turtles - there are too many humans to support that activity.
  2. not create waste that does not digest - let’s speed up the dial on removing single-use plastics from our world, just like was committed to in NSW this week - I bet we can go faster than a government mandate of 2025. We will create more news on this space soon for solutions to food packaging.
  3. avoid eating fish species that includes the gear that kills turtles - ghost fishing kills up to 1000 turtles per year. Today we will donate 5% of sales to the WWF battle against  Ghost Gear!
  4. set a clear end to land development that encroaches or impacts on turtle habitat - there has to be a planned boundary to where we can go as a society 

I have had the privilege to swim with turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, but not many would know how far south Green Turtles can swim. I have swum over a Green Turtle at Mollymook beach while ocean swimming, and bumping into them while doing algae surveys in St George's Basin and in Jervis Bay.

This is a 3 hour drive south of Sydney and far away from the Great Barrier Reef, so obviously, the Nemo current is not just for Nemo.

Maybe they like the taste of our local seaweeds, considering that most of a Green Turtles diet will comprise seaweed. The reason they are called green is because of the rich pigments they ingest and store in a layer of tissue between their organs and shell - so their cartilage and energy tissue is green.

Let’s take this day to reflect that each of our commitments on the above threats will turn the trajectory around for our Green Turtles, and ponder on whether we can be as good looking at 100 on a seaweed diet - try some today and 5% goes to the turtles.

Pia Winberg
Pia Winberg



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