Also known as marine turtles, sea turtles are marine reptiles that live in both water and land.
It is believed that sea turtles are as old as dinosaurs, which means that they have been living in the ocean basins for over 65 million years.
Scientific research shows that there are about seven to eight species of sea turtles. Unfortunately, almost all these species are endangered. The question that arises is why are sea turtles endangered? In this article, we have discussed 4 reasons that explain what makes sea turtles one of the most threatened species in the world.
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1. Nesting Issues
While sea turtles predominantly live in water, the female lot swims over to the land for nesting. However, during this time, the female sea turtles are in the most delicate position. Sadly, most of their nesting places are employed by human beings for the purpose of long-term settlements, structural developments, and human encroachments.
Owing to the lack of ideal nesting locations, many female sea turtles abort their eggs or nest them in a less suitable place. Sea turtles use natural light of the moon to locate their nesting area. But artificial lights distract these poor creatures and they lose their way.
Sea turtles are harmless creatures with a lower prey drive. They don’t possess claws or darts to protect themselves or eggs from poaching.
Since they don’t have the skill to keep their eggs safe from poachers, the poachers end up taking advantage of their inability. The poachers steal the eggs.
Today, sea turtles are endangered due to the activities of careless fishermen that abandon them as soon as they are caught. Most of the times, they are caught through shrimp boats.
The poor creatures fail to tolerate the weight of these nets. When they are caught in these humongous-sized nets, they get injured and end up dying. Gill nets are particularly harmful to sea turtles. Research shows that the excavation of oil also injures the animal and destroys their habitat for good.
4. Attacked by Predators
Did you know that one female sea turtle can nest up to over a hundred eggs in a single nesting time period? However, only some of these eggs are able to survive and grow in natural and suitable circumstances. Most of them are attacked by predators like birds, foxes, or by human.
The eggs lying on the land are easily hunted down. By the time they start running away, half of them are devoured down by their attackers. A few lucky ones that escape their enemies are gobbled down by fish like tiger sharks in the sea. Only a very few of these sea turtles get away from both the land and sea predators and complete their life cycle successfully.
What Can We Do to Save Endangered Sea Turtles?
Endangered sea turtles need to be protected by us. Below are some simple yet highly measures that can be taken to save sea turtles.
1. Turn Off All the Lights Near the Beach
As stated above, the reflection from artificial lights can be confusing for sea turtles. Instead of moving out of the sea, they may end heading toward the inland.
This sort of distraction can cost them their lives. Therefore, it is suggested to turn out all the lights near the beach or lessen their intensity by using a light shield.
2. Lower the Excessive Use of Chemicals
If this isn’t feasible for you, ensure the safe disposal of the used chemicals so that they can’t be thrown off later in the sea. A better alternative is to use biodegradable solutions that are less toxic to marine life, especially to sea turtles.
3. Don’t Throw Garbage in the Sea/Beach
Keep the beach as clean as your house. The beach may not be where you live but it is home to many animals. By making it dirty, (throwing litter around, spilling juices, or disposing of polythene bags in the seawater), you are endangering the lives of many sea animals; one of them which is, of course, sea turtles.
You may not know it but poor sea turtles often mistake plastic bag, wrappers, or other types of litter as food and end up eating them. This results in serious injury or death of the animal.
4. Don’t Come Near Nesting Areas of Sea Turtles
It is highly advised to steer clear from nesting areas of sea turtles. While it is tempting to touch and hold sea turtles when you spot them on the beach, it is best to not go near them. It is likely that the female sea turtle is out for nesting her eggs.
By hunting them down like this, you can put their lives in danger – and that’s the last thing one can want. Also, be extra vigilant about their nesting areas while walking on the beach. Make sure that you don’t trample their eggs on your way.
Now, that you know the reasons for the endangerment of sea turtles and some important ways to protect them, the only next step is to play your role as a responsible citizen and human and work as much as you can to save them from getting further terrorized.