Turtles are harmless sea creatures. They only come on land when they reproduce and lay their eggs.The cold-blooded reptiles fall under the order of Chelonii and are characterized by bony or cartilaginous shells. These shells develop from their ribs and acts as a protective shield for the animal. Unfortunately, turtles are almost going extinct; they are among the world’s most endangered vertebrates with over half of its species threatened across the globe. The threats faced by turtles are caused majorly by human activities such as illegal hunting, poaching, trades, destruction of natural habitat amidst many other harmful activities.
These threats are increasingly on the rise and have made the existence of turtles very difficult, these activities vary their adaption, lifespan and even go on to delay their sexual maturity. All these end up in reducing the number of turtles we have in the world today.
Why Are Turtles Important?
Turtles are very important to the ecosystem; there are responsible for the balanced functioning of the ecosystem. Some of the reasons why they are important are: Turtles feed majorly on seagrass. The nutritional process encourages the health, growth, and development of seagrasses. Turtles are responsible for providing habitat for other organisms like the Epibionts thereby maintaining the balance of the ocean floor ecosystems. They provide food for some species of fish and shrimps. Nutrients are released into the ocean whenever female turtles lay their eggs on the beach; these nutrients help to enrich the nesting areas. Turtles help to clean up the ocean by feeding on specific unwanted organisms like the jellyfish, mosquito larvae and other plants that limits oxygen in the water. They serve as distributors by ingesting certain seeds and disperse them in various areas with favorable germinating conditions as they roam around water or land. They can be called distributors as they can ingest certain seeds; carry flowers and disperse them as they travel in water or on land.
How Are Turtles Endangered?
With the expansion of fishing activities, turtles get entangled in fishing gears or shrimp trawl nets and get killed in the process. Traders illegally poach them for their shells, skin, eggs, and meat. They are served as unique dishes in exotic restaurants, some of them are used for traditional medicine or just killed for fun. Other human activities like uncontrolled coastal development, a vehicular movement that directly destroys sea turtles and their nests thereby rendering them homeless.Another factor that severely affects the survival of turtles is climate change. The sands are getting hotter day by day thus lowering the rates which turtle’s egg hatch and even altering sex ratios. This has decreased the rate which turtles reproduce and endangering the animal. Ocean pollution is another serious threat to the existence of turtles. Harmless turtles take in dangerous materials such as inorganic debris, plastics and other materials that can directly harm their digestive system and lead to their death.
Necessary actions that can help save the already diminishing species of turtles are:
- Using turtle-friendly fishing gears for all fishing activities.
- Enacting policies that will fight against water pollution of all kinds
- Fisheries can be encouraged to switch to more turtle-friendly fishing gears.
- Creating marine protected areas, ensuring sea turtles have a safe place to nest, feed and migrate freely.