Plastic straws

Plastic straws kill sea turtles

Caring about the environment feels so wide we can’t get around it.

Plastic straws are an easy fix.

Just stop using them. Give them back when the wait staff brings you one. Please and thank you.

The sea turtle hospital on Topsail Island has a bucket of plastic straws taken out of sea turtles. They apparently eat them and have them go up their noses. Sometimes the straws kill the turtles.

And why, you might ask, should you care about sea turtles? Or bears or spotted owls or the air you breathe?

It’s just too tough, right?

Just tell the waitress you don’t need a plastic straw. No thanks. And if you are as obnoxious as I am, you might add, “They kill sea turtles.”

The Atlantic coastline is home to five kinds of sea turtles: leatherbacks, green turtles, hawksbills, loggerheads, and olive ridleys. The leatherbacks are the biggest. Some grow as large as VW beetles. They can live to be 200 years old.

But all of them are big. They lay tiny eggs on the beaches. Once the 2 ounce hatchlings show up, they race to the water’s edge attracted by starlight and moonlight that dances on the surface of the ocean water. Protectors often babysit their nests and use red flashlights that work to keep the babies from being distracted by porch lights or other white lights from human sources. Birds and crabs will try to eat as many of the little guys as possible, but many make it across the beaches to the sea.

Since 1979, sea turtles have been on the Endangered Species List. Like a lot of ocean life, plastic straws, plastic bags, and other pollution have threatened to wipe them out. Boat propellers are another threat. Many of the turtles in the Topsail hospital have been wounded by propellers. They are rescued, rehabbed, and returned to the sea in most cases. Blind Lennie will never go back. She has been at the hospital for 16 years. She likes squid.

Next time you are between Wilmington and Jacksonville, anywhere near Topsail (pronounced topsil) Island stop by the Karen Beasley Turtle Rehabilitation and Rescue Center. During the current Covid mess reservations are required at Karen Beasley was a young woman who rescued and rehabilitated many turtles before her untimely death. Her mom, Jean Beasley, picked up the torch. Since 1997, they have rescued thousands of injured turtles and cared for as many as 90 at a time.

My eyes puddled up when I learned that local fishermen will often bring their catches to the hospital and leave buckets of fish for the turtles. That volunteer spirit gets me every time.

Contact Pat Jobe at He is the minister at All Souls Community locally which can be found by emailing him and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lake Norman at His latest book is It’s About Jesus, It’s Not About Max Burgin and A Brief History Of The Church Of The Exceptional on sale at Smith’s Drugs and Next Door Books and from Amazon. He lives in Grahamtown.