Sea Turtles

Did you know that:

  1. Sea turtles think jellyfish are delicious - Leatherbacks and hawkbill turtles feed on jellyfish and keep their populations in check. Plastic looks like jellyfish when it's floating in the water and that's why so many turtles die from ingesting plastic.
  2. Sea turtles are the oceans' lawnmowers - Green sea turtles have a heavily plant-based diet and eat seagrass. By keeping seagrass short, they prevent it from harming other marine creatures.
  3. Sea turtles cannot retract into their shell like other turtles - Their anatomy makes them more agile when in water but makes them highly vulnerable when nesting and hatching.
  4. Temperature dictates the sex of a baby sea turtle - Warmer nests lead to more females and cooler ones lead to more males—which is why climate change could drastically affect their populations by creating too many females and too few males to match them for reproduction.
  5. Sea turtles have been around for a very, very long time - An estimated 110 million years, which means they once shared the planet with T-Rex and other dinosaurs.
  6. Sea turtles can hold their breath for five hours underwater - To accomplish this mighty feat they slow their heart ratto up to one heart beat per nine minutes in order to conserve oxygen.
  7. Sea turtles can live to about 100 years - And that's also roughly the amount of eggs they lay every time they nest.
  8. Sea turtles have an excellent sense of direction - They can detect the Earth's magnetic field and use it as a compass.
  9. Leatherback turtles can weigh up to 1,500 pounds - That’s the same weight as a full grown dairy cow.
  10. Only one out of 1,000 hatchlings survives to be an adult - Luckily female adults can lay thousands of eggs over their lifetimes, so at least a few of them survive to adulthood.

Why are sea turtles endangered? 

All seven species are considered threatened or endangered - Two are critically endangered (Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley), one is endangered (Green) and three are threatened (Leatherback, Olive Ridley, and Loggerhead). Flatbacks are listed as data deficient on the IUCN Red List but are listed as endangered in Australia. Threats include:
  • Accidental capture by fishing gear - Also known as by-catch, entanglement in fishing nets often results in death and is the greatest threat to most sea turtles. 
  • Poaching - Sea turtles are killed for their eggs, meat, skin and shells. 
  • Climate change - Alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings leading to a disproportionate number of females. 
  • Human development of coastlines - This reduces the number of suitable nesting sites and feeding habitats. 
  • Pollution of marine environment - The increased presence of garbage and plastic waste in our oceans poses critical new threats.

How can you help? 

  • Purchase sustainable seafood - Pledge to buy seafood that's certified as being sustainable and urge stores and restaurants to carry certified fish.
  • Don’t buy turtle products - Tortoiseshell looks best on a turtle and turtle eggs belong in a turtle's nest with its mother. Remember, every dollar you spend on turtle products is a vote of endorsement.
  • Support sea ecotourism - Book a sustainable tour to see turtles, particularly when it benefits local communities.
  • Reduce your plastic consumption - Use less plastic, recycle and up our plastic pollution. Share the underwater impacts of pollution through data collection and reporting to influence policy.
  • Start a fundraiser - Do you know who makes the greatest impact for ocean protection? You do! When you become a fundraiser, you take the future of our ocean into your own hands.
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