(Photo Courtesy: National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration -
What is the problem? Every year thousands of hatchling turtles leave their nests along the southeast coast of the United States and enter the Atlantic ocean. Unfortunately, only about one in 1,000 to 10,000 will live to be adults. The natural obstacles faced by sea turtles are staggering. However, it is human threats that are driving the turtles to extinction. There are eight species of marine turtles. All species of sea turtles are now listed as endangered or threatened species.
Human Impact: Commercial fishing, especially shrimp fishing has historically been a problem for sea turtles. The numbers of sea turtles killed by scrimping have been dramatically reduced in the past five years by installation of turtle excluding devices (TEDs) on shrimp nets. Despite worldwide treaties prohibiting trade in sea turtles, their meat and eggs are a black-market delicacy in many parts of the world. Tortoiseshell jewelry and souvenirs are still sold.
Habitat Loss: Nesting beaches around the world are being destroyed by inappropriate coastal development. Shoreline ecosystems are disappearing at a rapid rate as a result of beach-front construction and coastal armoring.
Artificial Lighting: Nesting turtles need a quiet, dark beach on which to nest; now they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents for use of the beach. Lights from coastal developments discourage females from nesting and cause hatchlings to become disoriented and wander inland, where they can die of dehydration or from predators.
Pollution: Garbage and contaminated water are threats to sea turtles. Oil spills, urban runoff of chemicals, and petroleum all contribute to water pollution. Turtles can die from eating or becoming entangled in non degradable debris such as packing bands, balloons, bottles, vinyl, and Styrofoam. Many die after ingesting plastic bags mistaken for jellyfish. Trash, particularly plastic bags thrown overboard from boats or dumped near beaches and swept out to sea become deadly meals for sea turtles.
1. Write your United States Senator and Congressional Representative. Tell them how important sea turtles are to you and ask them to support protection for sea turtles and their habitat and to keep other environmental laws strong.
2. Write to President Obama and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior expressing your concern about the fate of sea turtles and your desire that they be saved.
3. Adopt-A-Sea Turtle By adopting a sea turtle you help with sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
4. Check out these websites and find out what these organizations are doing to help save the sea turtle.
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