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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!

Source: TED-Ed/Youtube

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.

With the rapid change in climatic conditions, sea turtles may not be able to adapt and suffer more and more population decline. As we well know by now, they are already struggling to survive.

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:

Tiny Rescue Animal Collection

Speak Up Tee By Tiny Rescue: Animal Collection

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