Sea turtles: the sea turtles most at risk. 🐢🐢🌊🌊⚠️⚠️

After reading an interesting article in November’s National geographic (I think it was November’s issue) I decided to do a follow up by writing this post about sea turtles most at risk!

For more than 100 million years sea turtles have covered vast distances across the world’s oceans, filling a vital role in the balance of marine habitats.

Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these magnificent marine creatures. They have been slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells, populations suffer from poaching and over-exploitation, they also face habitat destruction and most recently covered in the media; accidental capture—known as bycatch—in fishing gear.

Climate change also has an impact on turtles and their nesting sites. It alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has identified five major hazards to sea turtles:

  •  Fisheries: Sea turtles virtually everywhere are affected by fisheries, especially longlines, gill nets, and trawls. The most severe of these impacts are death after entanglement, habitat destruction and food web changes.
    • Direct Take: Sea turtles and their eggs are killed by people throughout the world for food, and for products including oil, leather and shell.
    • Coastal Development: Sea turtle habitats are degraded and destroyed by coastal development. This includes both shoreline and seafloor alterations, such as nesting beach degradation, seafloor dredging, vessel traffic, construction, and alteration of vegetation.
    • Pollution: Plastics, discarded fishing gear, petroleum by-products, and other debris harm and kill sea turtles through ingestion and entanglement. Light pollution disrupts nesting behavior and causes hatchling death by leading them away from the sea. Chemical pollutants can weaken sea turtles’ immune systems, making them susceptible to disease.
    • Climate change: Climate change will increase the frequency of extreme weather events, result in loss of nesting beaches, and cause other alterations to critical sea turtle habitats and basic oceanographic processes. It may impact natural sex ratios of hatchlings and increase the likelihood of disease outbreaks for sea turtles.

Species at risk include:

○Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Green turtles are the ones most frequently found in bycatch or are involved in accidents with vessels. The IUCN classifies this species as “endangered” and it is included in the Habitats Directive, CMS and the Barcelona Convention. However, its state of conservation shows no clear signs of recovery. Dumping into the Mediterranean affects this species directly, but also has an impact on its habitats, food supply and reproduction, and is considered another factor, apart from bycatch, that hinders the recovery of this and other turtle species in Europe.

○Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).

Loggerhead sea turtles are currently listed as being threatened with extinction under the Habitat Directive, Barcelona Convention and Convention of Migratory Species. Their numbers are rapidly declining. Loggerhead sea turtles, like other sea turtle species, face many natural and human-induced threats. Scientists have determined that the capture in fishing gear and the loss of nesting habitat are major causes of the loggerhead’s decline. Tens of thousands of loggerhead sea turtles are injured or killed annually in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico by destructive fishing gear , including trawls, gillnets and longlines. Loggerheads are also captured and killed by commercial fisheries using vertical lines, seines, dredges and various types of pots and traps. The largest decline was experienced by the South Florida nesting population, which declined 40 percent in the past decade. It is long past time for the federal government to step up and take control of sea turtle takes (intentional or accidental human interactions), especially bycatch  (the unintentional capture of turtles by fishing gear) and deaths in commercial fisheries. Failure of the fishery managers to act will immeasurably increase the risk of extinction of one of the ocean’s most ancient species.

○Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii).

Kemp’s ridleys nest more often than other species, every 1 to 3 years on average. Listed as Endangered (in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future) in 1970 under the U.S. Endangered Species Conservation Act, the predecessor to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which was established in 1973. International – Listed as Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The greatest threat to the Kemp’s ridley is from human use activities including collection of eggs and killing adults and juveniles for meat and other products. The significant decline in the number of Kemp’s ridley nests was a result of high levels of incidental take by shrimp trawlers.

○Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).

Olive ridley sea turtles, which are named for their olive-colored shell, are listed as threatened, with the exception of a single population that nests in Mexico, which is endangered. The decline of this species is primarily due to capture in commercial fisheries, loss of nesting habitat and continued killing of adults and poaching of eggs.

○Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Hawksbill sea turtles are in danger of extinction and are listed as endangered under the Habitat Directive and Barcelona Convention. Capturing and killing hawksbills for their valuable shell, which is used to make hairclips, combs, jewelry and decorative art , is a major threat to the recovery of the species. While the legal international trade of hawksbill shells ceased in 1994, Cuba has recently pushed to reopen the market.
The killing of hawksbills still occurs throughout the world for traditional, medicinal and subsistence level use. In the Pacific, intentional killing of sea turtles is a major issue in American Samoa, Guam, Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. And a number of American countries still allow the killing of hawksbills, including the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Although the killing of hawksbills and the poaching of their eggs is illegal in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, hawksbill products are still readily available for sale.

○Flatback sea turtle (Natator depressus).

This sea turtles range is very limited. It is found only in the waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific and they only nest 4 times per season. Lays an average of 50 eggs at time, but these are comparatively quite large. The eggs incubate for about 55 days. When the hatchlings emerge, they are larger than most species. In Australia it is listed as Vulnerable under the Australian Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act. Internationally it is Listed as Data Deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It was previously listed as vulnerable. Change in classification does not imply species recovery, it just indicates a lack of recent research into their abundance and distribution.

○Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).

Leatherbacks have delicate, scissor-like jaws. Their jaws would be damaged by anything other than a diet of soft-bodied animals, so they feed almost exclusively on jellyfish. Primarily found in the open ocean, as far north as Alaska and as far south as the southern tip of Africa, though recent satellite tracking research indicates that leatherbacks feed in areas just offshore. Known to be active in water below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the only reptile known to remain active at such a low temperature. In the USA they are
Listed as Endangered (in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future) in 1970 under the U.S. Endangered Species Conservation Act, the predecessor to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which was established in 1973. Internationally they are listed as Vulnerable in 2013 (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Greatest threat to leatherback sea turtles is from incidental take in commercial fisheries and marine pollution (such as balloons and plastic bags floating in the water, which are mistaken for jellyfish).

Read more using the links below…. ⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️


What can we do to save the sea turtles?

🌊Become a conscious and responsible seafood consumer by asking where and how your seafood was caught. Choose seafood caught in ways that do not harm or kill turtles. Consult sustainable seafood information networks to learn about how and where your seafood is caught. Buy seafood that have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (check out the link below).

You can read up about the role of the Marine Stewardship Council, sustainable fishing methods, sustainable seafood and where to buy it from and also recipes you can try too. 🐟🐟🐟🐟

🌊Volunteer at a local sea turtle rescue centre, contact your MP, donate to a sea turtle charity, petition for more sustainable fishing methods- let your voice be heard, try and make a difference when and where you can, no action too small is insignificant.

🌊Participate in coastal clean-ups and reduce plastic use to keep our beaches and ocean clean. Trash in the ocean can harm sea turtles and other creatures that live there.

🌊Carry reusable water bottles and shopping bags. Refrain from releasing balloons, they’ll likely end up in the ocean where sea turtles can mistake them for prey and consume them.

🌊Keep nesting beaches dark and safe for sea turtles. Turn off, shield, or redirect lights visible from the beach. Lights disorient hatchling sea turtles and discourage nesting females from coming onto the beach to lay their eggs.

🌊Do not disturb nesting turtles, nests, or hatchlings. Attend organized sea turtle watches that know how to safely observe nesting sea turtles.

🌊Remove recreational beach equipment like chairs, umbrellas, boats at night so sea turtles are not turned away.

🌊Fill in holes and knock down sandcastles before you leave the beach. They can become obstacles for nesting turtles or emerging hatchlings.

🌊Never abandon fishing gear. Hooks, lines, or nets left in the water can entangle and kill sea turtles.

🌊Recycle fishing line and discard your trash on shore in trash receptacles.

🌊Never feed or attempt to feed sea turtles—it is harmful and illegal!

🌊Boaters beware! Sea turtles are commonly found in oceans, bays, sounds, and near shore waters. Remember, turtles have to come up to the surface for air, and they can be difficult to see. Boat strikes are a serious threat to sea turtles, so slow down and steer around them.

Here are some charitable organisations who help sea turtles:






















These are just a few examples.

Until next time,

Faye xx