Composting Connections: Climate Impact on Sea Turtles

For immediate release ‐ August 27, 2019

Conservation, Science

Contact: Jessica Wackes, 919.707.9850. Images available upon request

By Devyn Barron, NCMNS Summer Intern and facilitated by Jess Wackes, PR & Marketing Coordinator

Landfills are contributing to the Climate Crisis. Our waste, unless otherwise recycled or composted, is sent to a landfill. Once a landfill has been filled it is sealed and typically turned into parks. However, sealing a landfill means that there is no oxygen below the surface, and this is where a process called anaerobic digestion occurs. Bacteria try to break down waste we seal, but in this process they excrete methane as their byproduct, just like trees produce oxygen when they create sugars from sunlight and water.

Coastal Connections

When landfills leak methane gas, they affect the warming our planet and contributing to the climate crisis. According to the EPA, landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States. Because our planet and its natural systems are so deeply interconnected, the climate crisis means that life is changing for a lot of species. A North Carolina coastal animal, the Loggerhead sea turtle, relies on temperature to determined sex. A cooler nest means more male hatchlings, and a warmer nest means more female hatchlings. The more our coastal climate transforms and warms, the more female sea turtles there will be.

Loggerhead coasting about the sea's sandy bottom.


Sea Turtles: Quick Facts

  1. Globally, there are only 7 species of sea turtles.
  2. The Loggerhead sea turtle is one of the five turtles that visits our North Carolina coast.
  3. Out of the nearly 100 eggs laid in a single nesting, it is estimated that not even 1 may make it to adulthood.
  4. The lifespan of a sea turtle is around 80 years, it’s estimated it takes decades for them to reach sexual maturity. So as temperatures are rising, due to greenhouse gas emissions from sources like landfills, there will be far less of an ability for female turtles to find males to breed.

Composting can help!

By composting we can prevent food waste and other organic matter from ever making it to a landfill where it would be broken down by bacteria that produce methane. Help us save the sea turtles by joining the compost crusade!


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