Black and White Turtle

How Do Plastic Straws Affect Turtles? Plastic straws pose a significant threat to turtles by causing physical harm and contributing to ocean pollution.

This impact can be detrimental to turtle populations and marine ecosystems.

The Dangers of Plastic Straws to Turtles

  • Physical Harm: Plastic straws can cause severe physical harm to turtles. When ingested, they can block the digestive system, leading to malnutrition or death. Additionally, straws can get lodged in turtles’ nostrils or throats, causing suffocation or severe injuries.
  • Ocean Pollution: Plastic straws contribute to the larger problem of ocean pollution. They are one of the most common items found during beach cleanups and can take hundreds of years to decompose. This persistent pollution affects not only turtles but all marine life.
  • Threat to Young Turtles: Young turtles are particularly vulnerable as they are more likely to mistake small pieces of plastic, including straws, for food. This mistake can be fatal, leading to a decrease in the turtle population over time.

Learn more about care for turtles and environmental conservation in our extensive guides.

The Scale of the Problem

Every day, millions of plastic straws are used and discarded, with many ending up in the oceans and contributing to plastic pollution that affects over 700 marine species, including turtles.

Numerous documented cases highlight the harm to turtles, such as the well-known incident of a turtle with a straw lodged in its nostril that required surgical removal.

For more detailed information on plastic pollution, refer to Wikipedia.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

Reducing the use of plastic straws is a highly effective way to protect turtles, with many restaurants and individuals opting for alternatives like paper, metal, or reusable straws.

Participating in beach clean-ups and supporting organizations dedicated to reducing ocean pollution can significantly impact by removing existing debris and raising awareness.

Advocating for policies that limit single-use plastics, including straws, can lead to widespread change, as evidenced by several cities and countries that have already implemented bans or restrictions on plastic straws to address the issue.

How You Can Help

Clear Plastic Bottle on White Sand Near Body of Water

Individuals can help by refusing plastic straws, choosing to go without or using reusable ones when dining out, spreading awareness about the impact of plastic straws on marine life, and supporting legislation that reduces plastic waste.

Community efforts include organizing local beach clean-ups to remove plastic waste and partnering with businesses to encourage the switch to eco-friendly alternatives.


Plastic straws significantly harm turtles and the broader marine ecosystem.

By reducing plastic straw use, participating in clean-up efforts, and advocating for policy changes, we can protect turtles and promote a healthier ocean.