This week, I had the opportunity to make a new friend. Carr is a Green Sea Turtle that was placed in his new home at SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium yesterday. Before coming to SEA LIFE, Carr was hit by a boat which left his shell badly deformed. He was found in a canal in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he was then taken to a nature center to be cared for.
Due to his deformed shell, Carr could no longer dive deep into the water. After his wounds healed, Carr had weights attached to his shell to help him with buoyancy. While these weights helped him float better through the water, his chance of survival in the wild was very slim.
SEA LIFE Michigan has happily opened their aquarium to Carr, and I was excited to witness his introduction to the SEA LIFE environment and to the aquarium’s first resident sea turtle, Benson.
As exciting as it was to watch this 85 pound hunk of cuteness curiously scope out his new digs, and swim around with his new turtle-buddy, it really got me thinking: what can we, as travelers, do to help sea turtles and their environments?
Travelers have the privledge of seeing and experiencing much of this world. Unfortunately, due to unsustainable practices around the globe, we are now seeing the result of human wastefulness and disregard for the Earth. Creatures like Carr would have a much better chance of thriving in their natural habitats if people would implement more environmentally cautious practices into their lives. So, I have brainstormed some things travelers can do to travel in an environmentally friendly way.
Did you know that an estimated amount of 8 million tons of plastic trash ends up in the ocean each year? Each. Year. And that’s just plastic! This is obviously a huge problem for our environment and its inhabitants. Things like using E-tickets instead of printing boarding passes, and using reusable bags can make a huge difference.
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Water is an important part of life. As we travel, we need to drink lots of water to stay healthy and active. With the need to stay hydrated, travelers should elect to bring along reusable water bottles to continuously fill up. Think of how many plastic bottles you will keep out of the oceans!
The LifeStraw Bottle is the perfect water bottle for travelers. Not only is it reusable, leak-proof, and BPA free, but it also has a high tech filter which removes 99.9999% of bacteria, viruses, waterborne pathogens and harmful chemicals. You can take this bottle to destinations where the water is unsafe to drink, and fill it up with no worries!
Find the LifeStraw Bottle on Amazon
Check out more eco-friendly products for travel
Be Respectful Toward Wildlife
There have been way too many stories in the media recently about people abusing animals to get a great selfie. Nothing about that is cool. Animal tourism around the world is under tight watch, as more and more businesses are discovered to have questionable practices. Elephant riding in Asia is a huge no-no. The same goes for places that use drugs to subdue animals for tourists to pet.
You can still ethically observe and encounter animals in the wild, but it is important to educate yourself and others on how to do so respectfully. Some common practices include refraining from feeding wild animals, keeping at a safe distance, and only supporting businesses that treat animals respectfully.
Think About Transportation
We all know that air travel creates significant carbon emissions. But did you know there are small things you can do to help reduce this? Flying nonstop routes, flying on newer fuel-efficient aircrafts, packing lighter, and even pulling your window shade down can contribute to a greener flight. In addition, think about alternate ways to get around your destination cities that don’t involve greenhouse gas emissions. Consider walking or renting a bike before hiring an Uber car. Or, explore cities that use eco-friendly buses.
Voluntourism is a great option for people wanting to travel, while also lending a helping hand in local communities. There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities all across the world, which require all sorts of skill sets. You could help with jungle conservation in Peru, teach locals about agriculture and sustainability in Ghana, or even work with sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica. Check out GoEco to see more eco-volunteer opportunities around the world!
Research Tour Operators
Before you sign up for that whale watching cruise or that shark diving tour, research your tour operators. Sadly, some operators put their clients first and foremost and will engage in damaging behaviors just to have tourists’ money. Make sure that your tour companies are acting with environmentally friendly practices.
Support Businesses That Care
Not only is it important to ensure that your tour operators are eco-friendly, you should do the same with all businesses. By supporting businesses that care about the Earth and implement environmentally friendly practices, you are helping their endeavors.
When you visit SEA LIFE Michigan, you get to see amazing creatures like Carr, and you are also helping to support the SEA LIFE Trust. This is a charity that works to protect the world’s oceans and their inhabitants. Visit SEA LIFE Michigan’s website to learn more about this charity and to purchase tickets.
By engaging in these environmentally friendly practices, we can help keep green sea turtles like Carr safe and happy in the oceans.
And now, cue the montage of adorable turtle pics 🙂
Thank you to SEA LIFE Michigan for inviting me to Carr’s exciting introduction to his new home.
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What a great post, I really support any blogger that tries to bring awareness to animal welfare. The animal tourism industry can be such a horrible thing. I think the most important thing, and yet somehow the hardest for people to grasp, is to be respectful of wildlife.
When I was living in Costa Rica, we were preparing for a rush of tourists to come and see the sea turtle hatching. To my horror, the tourists literally stormed the beach, touching the baby sea turtles, getting in the way, and in all likelihood stepping on them. We need to promote respect as much as we can.