Sea turtles have existed on earth for more than 100 million years and represent a huge link in the marine ecosystem, seagrass and coral reefs are maintained by sea turtles, and this benefits the development of shrimps, lobsters and tuna fish. They travel long distances, exposing themselves to countless natural and human-caused threats. Our ocean waters are inhabited by seven species of marine turtles. Humans actions and lifestyle have led five of the seven sea turtle species to an endangered status. These five species are the Hawksbill, Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead and Green turtles. Sometimes slaughtered for their skin, shells, eggs and meat, they are poached and over exploited.
Five Major Hazards to Turtles’ Survival
1) Fisheries, they get tangled in trawls and gill nets, but the gears also cause destruction of their food sources and habitats, this accidental catch represents the greatest threat to most sea turtles and is in fact expanding. Hundreds of thousands of turtles’ lives are lost each year because of bycatch.
2) Direct Take, people throughout the world kill turtles and grab their eggs for consumption or production of shell, leather and oil. Some cultures kill turtles to perform religious and ritual ceremonies and others to make medicine off them. The two species that suffer the most from turtle harvesting are the greens and hawksbill turtles. Though turtle trafficking is forbidden, illegal trafficking don’t seem to perish anytime soon.
3) Coastal Development, this activity (which includes seafloor and shoreline alterations) across the world degrades and destroys sea turtles’ habitat by degradation of nesting beaches, dredging seafloor, and alteration of the sea ecosystem.
4) Climate change, the increasement in the frequency of extreme weather events caused by climate change, cause alteration to their habitats and nesting beaches. Environmental condition affects every stage of turtle’s life, temperatures rise, which raises water temperatures and affects even the sex of the hatchlings.
5) Pollution, the contamination caused by petroleum products, fishing gear, plastic, and debris, are the biggest threat to their lives by ingestion and entanglement. Chemical pollution weakens their immune system which makes them vulnerable to diseases. light pollution on the other hand lead hatchlings away from the sea, which causes their death.
What can we do?
Animal societies and the World Wildlife Fund are doing a lot of activities to help preserve the life of sea turtles, some governments have banned certain products to help save our oceans from pollution. We shouldn’t just leave it in their hands, and try to change some stuff ourselves, but it is also important to know that 71% of the pollution is caused by big companies.
Some of the things you can do to help preserve the lives of this beautiful reptile are: keep beaches free of trash, do not disturb nesting females, stay away from nested grounds, boat away from their known habitats and be careful when boating in the sea, avoid light pollution when camping on the beach or if you live close to a coast.