Endangered Sea Turtles

By: Vivienne Wellet

 Endangered Species are all around the world, and they are endangered because of hunting, fishing, prey, etc. Many sea turtle species are on the endangered list, they are vulnerable to people who poach them for their eggs, meat, skin, and even their shell. Nearly all sea turtle species are endangered now because of debris, nets, etc. Jellyfish are sea turtles’ favorite food, but they can’t tell the difference between them and a plastic bag. That is why they end up dying after ingesting plastic products that just take up space in their stomachs. In total, there are about 187 species that are endangered, and 127 are critically endangered. 

  The most endangered turtle in the world is the Yangtze giant softshell turtle who is hunted for such things as their meat and skin.. Another major endangered turtle is the Green sea turtle, that are hunted for their eggs and are caught in fishing gear including nets.There are only about 90,000 green turtles left in the world. In the United States, the Kemp’s Ridley turtle is the most endangered species in the country.If turtles were to go extinct around the world, then dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and wouldn’t be as healthy. About 4,600 turtles are either hunted, killed, and caught by nets. There are about 6.5 million sea turtles left on the planet. Over 1,000 turtles ends up dying because of plastic. Humans can help save turtles by reducing the amount of debris we use, participate in beach and coastal clean ups, use reusable bags and water bottles instead of plastic, and keep nesting beaches dark so that hatchlings can follow the moonlight and get in the water safely. 

  Some interesting facts about turtles are that they are able to cry, they are the ocean’s lawnmowers, they cannot retract into their shells like other turtles, temperature decides the gender of the hatchlings, they can hold their breath for up to 5 hours, and since they have lungs they can drown. Hatchling sea turtles are prey, and so animals such as crabs, raccoons, boars, coyotes and sharks can eat them. The biggest threat for turtles right now is being caught in fishing gear.

   The biggest sea turtle ever recorded was the Leatherback turtle and it was almost 10 feet long measuring from their head all the way to its tail. Turtles can see intermediate reds with their eyesight instead of regular colors with the eyesight of humans . Turtles can be various colors, such as olive-green, yellow, greenish-brown, black, and even reddish-brown. Before anyone thinks about whether a turtle shell is bulletproof or not, it is most definitely not bulletproof. The shell on a turtle’s back is made up of over 60 bones and holds most of the blood supply for the turtle, so any injuries within its shell can cause a lot of pain and suffering for the turtle. 

  About 6,000 turtles die because of injuries with their shells, usually because of boat motors running over them. From bycatch of over 100,000 animals, marine animals such as  dolphins, whales, sharks, stingrays, and turtles. 20,000 dolphins and whales, 30,000 sharks and stingrays, and 40,000 turtles end up dead each year just because of bycatch. Bycatch is when the “unwanted” marine life is caught due to commercial fishing for a different species. As of right now more than 1 million Sea turtles have been saved and/or been released into the ocean, So let’s save and protect the oceans and the Sea turtles to keep them alive for many years to come.

Image from WWF

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