Help keep One Green Planet free and independent! Together we can ensure our platform remains a hub for empowering ideas committed to fighting for a sustainable, healthy, and compassionate world. Please support us in keeping our mission strong.
Sea turtles have been one of the more adored faces of animal Conservation. We’ve seen videos of baby turtles scrambling across the beach and getting swept up in the tide. We’ve witnessed graceful sea turtles swooshing through the shallows on vacation snorkeling trips.
They are present along every coastline of the (non-polar) world. They climb onto beaches for nesting, and or they surface to breathe. These are animals many of us get to see.
They are also animals struggling to survive. There are only 7 species of sea turtles remaining in our oceans: IUCN lists the Kemp’s Ridley and Hawksbill as critically endangered, the Green as endangered, and the Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, and Leatherback as vulnerable to extinction. There isn’t enough information on Australian Flatback, with more limited distribution, to determine where it belongs on the IUCN list.
The heartbreaking thing about this is that, however much we are great fans of sea turtles, humans are the major cause of their poor condition. Many of our habits and practices are creating serious issues for sea turtles.
Source: National Geographic/Youtube
1. Eating Animals
While many OGP monsters are fully onboard with plant-based eating, that approach to diet is still largely lacking in the wider population. Though efforts have been made to protect them, sea turtles have not been left off many menus around the world.
The eggs are often collected from nests and sold as—what a shock!—aphrodisiacs or an exotic flavor. It’s a massive industry, both legal and illegal. The meat of sea turtles is also part of the exotic food trade.
2. Commercial Fishing
Even for those who aren’t eating turtles specifically, commercial fishing for seafood has been detrimental to sea turtle populations. Thousands are turtles are snared in commercial fishing nets and killed every year. Trawling (dragging weighted nets) has proven incredibly harmful for sea turtles, as well as marine mammals and seabirds.
3. Using Turtle Shells
Sea turtle shells are prized items for many collectors. The Hawksbill’s shell, in particular, has been very valuable, so much so that these turtles are now critically endangered. They are used in jewelry and luxury items. This is still happening today!
4. Developing the Beach
Sea turtles require dark, quiet beaches in order to lay their eggs. With international tourism being on the rise and human development continuing to expand, those beaches are becoming fewer and farther between.
The turtles are repelled by the artificial lighting. Even when they are not, driving along beaches can lessen nesting success by compacting the sand, leaving ruts, and disorienting hatchlings. Beach furniture can get in the way of the babies making it to the tide. Coastal armoring blocks turtles from getting to prime nesting areas.
5. Polluting the Sea
Humans are polluting the sea, and despite seemingly finding ways to combat it, the amount of Pollution in the sea is only getting worse. The plastic problem is well documented now. Turtles often die from ingesting or becoming entangled in garbage. They get chronically ill from oil spills.
Even the food the sea turtles naturally eat is becoming unsafe for them due to contamination, particularly from the runoff of fertilizers, biocides, chemicals, and petroleum. Just as contaminated seafood (and other foods) have become a human-created issue for humans, the problem extends to sea turtles (and other animals).
6. Having Unruly Pets
Sea turtles, especially turtle eggs and young turtles, have plenty of natural predators. Everything from raccoons to crabs to ants will raid turtle nests for a treat. Seabirds are another massive natural threat.
However, atypical predators are now on the prowl for turtles, and it’s often a result of the pet trade. Cats and dogs are a problem for young turtles and turtle eggs. In places like Florida, human-introduced invasive species are wreaking havoc.
7. Changing the Climate
Regardless of whether or not humans are fully to blame for Climate change, we have certainly been huge, active participants in the severity and speed of it. As sea levels rise, nesting beaches become even fewer. As temperature rise, storms become much more destructive and erosive along the coasts.
Source: Sea Turtle Conservancy/Youtube
How/Who to Help
Rather than just being appalled by this information, wouldn’t it be great to have some way to help? Well, here are some organizations looking for people exactly like us:
- Panama Grants Sea Turtles Protection Rights
- The Effects of Climate Change on Sea Turtles
- Watch Delicate Rescue of a Sea Turtle Entangled in Fishing Gear [Video]
- Hundreds of Emaciated Sea Turtles Wash Up on Texas Beaches, Experts Try to Figure Out Why
- 99% of Sea Turtles Are Born Female As Heat Waves Sweep Across the World
Easy Ways to Help the Planet:
- Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based Recipe app on the App Store, to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
- Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take initiative by standing up against fast fashion Pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that raise awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade over and over again.
- Support Independent Media: Being publicly funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!
- Sign a Petition: Your voice matters! Help turn petitions into victories by signing the latest list of must-sign petitions to help people, animals, and the planet.
- Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest news and important stories involving animals, the environment, sustainable living, food, health, and human interest topics by subscribing to our newsletter!
- Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, Donate if you can, grow your food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!