On April 20, Palm Beach’s annual Earth Day festival took place on the Rinker Green. Local businesses and representatives from West Palm Beach’s parks, farms and nature preserves came to Palm Beach Atlantic University to raise awareness for the environment in honor of the holiday. Although the environment is a hot topic today with many different sides in debates about it, PBA’s students were happy to come out and learn about the different ways they can help the environment.
Because West Palm Beach is a coastal city, plenty of organizations focused on ocean conservation were at the Earth Day festival, including representatives from the Loggerhead Marine Life Center. The LMLC focuses primarily on veterinary work with sea turtles.
The Beacon spoke to Ashlee Quyle, the Marine Life Center’s education intern. Her role puts her in charge of public appearances that the Center makes and educating people on how to help preserve the lives of sea turtles, many species of which are endangered.
“If you bring anything to the beach, take it all back with you. Your plastics, your shoes, believe it or not, that always ends up back in someone’s stomach, and that someone is a turtle,” Quyle said.
Sea turtles consuming plastic is one of the most common causes of their death, and Quyle illustrated it with a rather grim prop: a jar full of bits of plastic extracted from the stomachs of dead turtles that consumed them. The declining sea turtle population in the world is a problem because of their role in balancing out the ecosystems of the ocean by eating seaweed, coral and jellyfish. Organizations like the Loggerhead Marine Life Center are doing their best to keep their populations alive and well.
Though West Palm Beach is surrounded by marine environments, representatives from more land-based conservation organizations were at the festival as well.
One of the tables was run by Alex Combs, a beekeeper from Bee Healthy Honey Farms in Delray Beach. Combs was at the festival to sell honey from the farms, talk about beekeeping, and show the attendees what a typical beehive at a bee farm looks like. With saving bees from extinction becoming a hot button issue lately, bee farms are becoming more and more important to keep bees alive.
“If we don’t have bees… anything that needs pollination to survive dies. We’ll lose a lot of crops, a lot of agriculture, a lot of food. A lot depends on the bees,” Combs said.
The festival will return next April for those interested in learning more about the environment and how to protect it.