TURTLE FACTS

There are 7 different types of sea turtle and all of them are under threat and endangered. This means they could become extinct unless people protect them and their habitats.

Can you learn and remember all 7 types? Loggerhead, Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Flatback, Green and Kemp’s Ridley.

The biggest turtle is the Leatherback which can grow up to 2 metres – that is just a bit taller than your teacher! The smallest are the Olive & Kemp’s Ridley and they are 60 cm long – as big as you were when you were a baby!

Sea Turtles generally like to live in warm seas as they are cold blooded reptiles. They have scaly skin, breathe air and lay eggs. What other reptiles do you know?

They have big powerful flippers at the front to propel them through the water and the back flippers are used for steering. Leatherbacks are the fastest and can swim up to 20 mph – about the same speed as an average dog – can you run that fast? Why do you think turtles would need to swim that fast?

Different turtles like to eat lots of different food like sea grass, jellyfish, seaweed, crabs, fish and shrimp. What are your favourite foods? How do you think the plastic in the ocean tricked Duffy into thinking it was her food?

Sea Turtles can hold their breath for several hours if they are resting but if they are busy feeding they need to surface every few minutes for air. They can live as long as people – up to 100 years!

 

PLASTIC IN OUR OCEANS

So much in our world around us involves the use of plastic. Have a look around you right now – how many bits of plastic can you see? Computer, pen, window frames, chairs, drinks bottles, food wrappers – it is even in some of our clothes! We are a world that is addicted to plastic and when we throw it away it stays in the environment for 500 years or more – every single piece of plastic ever made is still around in some form today.

The plastic in our ocean comes from three main sources:

1. 20% comes from boats and container ships. Did you know in rough seas containers can be washed off the ship and end up in the sea. Everything that was inside the container then breaks free and empties into the oceans. Whole containers full of rubber ducks, lego and even Kinder Eggs have been found washed up on beaches around the world.

2. 10% is left by people as rubbish on beaches.

3. 70% is rubbish from inland which gets washed into drains and rivers and then ends up in the sea. Every single piece of rubbish you see lying around you in the streets and playgrounds, in parks and towns and along the edges of roads, unless it gets picked up by cleaners will end up in the ocean.

Every year 100 million marine animals are killed by plastic in our oceans. Half of all turtles have eaten plastic at some time. It is our job to look after our oceans by behaving responsibly and spreading the word. See our Get Involved page for ideas on how you can help.

 

PUFFIN FACTS

There are three different types of puffin and they were originally named after the “puffed” shape of their bodies. They are about as big as a rabbit and their big colourful beak can hold several fish at once – the record number of fish counted in one beak was 62!

They live out at sea during the Winter and only come back to the land in the Spring to have their babies which are called pufflings. They dig tunnels and burrows like rabbits – sometimes they even use old rabbit burrows to save them the effort of digging their own.

Each male puffin will stay with their female puffin their whole life and they go back to the same burrows every year. They lay one single egg which both parents take turns to keep warm. Once the pufflings are born, the parents both help to feed and raise it until it is old enough to fly.

Puffins can flap their wings up to 400 times a minute and reach speeds of 88km/h which is about the same speed as a lion can run! They are fantastic swimmers and can dive down to 60m underwater searching for their favourite fish.

Puffins are at risk from natural predators such as other big seabirds or foxes, weasels or rats. Like all animals, they are also in danger from plastic pollution in the sea which they can eat or get tangled in like Marli did.

 

WHALE FACTS

There are about 90 different kinds of whales divided into two types. Baleen whales like Nelson have hard strong plates in their jaws made of keratin – this is the same substance as your hair and fingernails. This baleen plate acts like a sieve and traps all the tiny krill they feed on. Toothed whales such as narwhal and pilot whales have teeth and feed on fish and plants.

The Blue Whale is the largest animal that has ever lived, even bigger than a dinosaur. It can grow up to 30m long and weigh up to 136 tonnes. It’s heart is as big as a small car and you could fit 50 people standing on its tongue!

Whales are mammals which mean they have to come to the surface every few minutes to breathe air although the sperm whale can hold its breath for 90 minutes. The world record for a human holding their breath underwater is 24 minutes!

Whales swim by moving their tails up and down and using their flippers, which also help them to turn. Some whales can swim more than 50 km/h if they are in danger but most swim about as fast as a dog can run.

When whales sleep, they shut down half of their brain and stay near the surface with their blowhole above the water. Whilst one half of the brain sleeps, the other half makes sure the whale keeps breathing air whilst resting or slowly swimming.

All whales are very noisy. They talk to each other using squeaks, groans, and sighs. Whales are the loudest animals in the world. Their underwater sounds can travel great distances – sometimes as far as 6,000km – from one side of an ocean to the other!

 

WHAT ARE GHOST FISHING NETS?

The nets that Nelson was trapped in are called Ghost Fishing Nets.  These are fishing nets which have been lost or abandoned at sea.

This is a huge problem in our oceans right now as the nets are made using plastic rope instead of natural rope. This means they are now stronger and last much longer – maybe hundreds of years.

The nets and other fishing gear can trap animals like whales, sharks, dolphins and turtles as well as fish, crabs and lobsters and they will keep on doing this for as long as the net lasts. This is why they are called ghost nets as they keep trapping animals long after they have stopped being used by fishing boats.

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Lost or found nets can be reported to the Ghost Gear Initiative so they can be brought back to land to recycle the plastic into something new like clothing, carpets or even kayaks!

If you are fishing or crabbing, make sure you collect all fishing lines, nets, hooks, weights and bait nets to reuse or dispose of correctly in the bin or take home.

Fishing nets and pots should be tagged with the owner’s name and a tracker so they can be returned safely.

Special bins at harbours and ports can collect nets that have been found at sea by fishermen. 

By collecting or reporting any fishing nets, pots or line that you find on the beach you are helping keep our oceans clean of plastic and helping our animals to stay healthy.

By choosing fish to eat that have been caught locally to you using line caught fish or pot caught shellfish you are helping to support sustainable fishing.