Sea turtles are one of the ancient species that lived in the time of the dinosaurs. Sea turtles are the oldest marine turtle was dated back to 120 million years, according to fossil fuel1. Fun Facts: Sea Turtles could hold their breath underwater for five hours6. They use the Earth’s magnetic field and utilize it as a compass2. There are different seven types of Sea Turtles which are Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Flatback Sea Turtle (Natator depressus), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)2.
Image Source: Guyana Chronicle, https://travel2madagascar.com/fascinating-facts-sea-turtles/.
Dangers to Sea Turtles
Commercial fishing, climate change, water pollution, sea-level rise, and other human activities are the important factors that impact sea turtle life. About 50,000 threatened sea turtles were killed in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic in 2013 by U.S shrimp trawlers 3. Climate change is one of the significant factors that affect the sea turtle population. A warmer temperature is a consequence of climate change. Higher temperature dictates the sex of baby turtles by producing warmer nets 4. Warmer nests lead to more females and cooler ones lead to more males 4. Human activities – like artificial lighting and habitat alteration- destroyed many beaches in the United States 8. Water pollution can kill aquatic plant and animal life and can destroy feeding habitats for sea turtles 2. Higher numbers of Kemp’s Ridley Turtles were more impacted by Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Louisiana, according to recent studies 2.
Why are Sea Turtles Important to Our Ecosystem?
First, it is maintaining healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs. Green sea turtles have a more plant-based diet and eat seagrass. They obviated seagrass from getting tall and harming other marine creatures to keep seagrass short. Sea turtles can provide a key habitat for other marine life. Green Sea Turtles increase the nutrient and productivity content of seagrass blades. It is helping to balance marine food webs. Hawksbills permit the coral to settle and grow by removing sponges from reefs. Sea turtles facilitate nutrient cycling from water to land 7.
How can we protect the Sea Turtles?
A turtle excluder device (TED) is a device that lets a caught sea turtle escape from a fisherman’s net. It is a solution to reduce bycatch. It helps prevent sea turtle deaths in nets and reduces wasted catch on all U.S. Appropriately, southeast shrimp trawling vessels would generate economic and environmental benefits.TED is simply a metal grid with bars spaced about 10 centimeters apart. Set at an angle, it is typically installed in the neck of a shrimp trawling net. Shrimp and fish can pass through the grid and are retained in the net. However, the grid deflects large objects -like turtles- upwards and out of the net flap.
Many Sea Turtles can be protected by raising awareness and promoting ecotourism and establishing and strengthening protected areas around nesting beaches 5. Volunteers have a great impact on sea turtle conservation projects through patrolling nesting beaches, transferring eggs into protected corrals, and monitoring the release of hatchlings 10. Some scientists and volunteers were tracking the sea turtle hatchlings, by using manicure supplies to differentiate between various types of the sea turtle. According to Anderson Cabot Center, the researchers monitored and tracked sea turtles paths by using a GPS tag. Want to learn more watch the video:
It is time for us to protect sea turtles and rebuild their populations to healthy levels as a vital step in ensuring healthy and resilient oceans for the future. As individuals, we could help the sea turtles to survive through follow these steps 5:
- Purchase sustainable seafood.
- Support sea turtle ecotourism.
- Turn off the lights at night near nesting beaches.
- If you see a turtle nest, leave it alone.
- Dispose of trash properly and use reusable bags.
- Never release balloons outdoors.
- These Items in Your Home Are Harming America’s Sea Animals – The New York Times (nytimes.com)