By: Chris Long
For 100 million years, sea turtles have roamed the earth. When most people think of sea turtles, they picture vacationers in exotic vacation spots swimming with the turtles. Or maybe they think of Finding Nemo’s Marlin and Squirt riding the waves. What they don’t usually think of however, is the fact that all seven species of turtle are endangered. They don’t think of the poaching and littering and global warming that dwindle down the turtle population. I know I don’t, but I should. We all should.
One of the greatest threats to sea turtles is entanglement in fishing gear. Most sea turtles that are caught in large fishery nets are discarded as trash and left for dead. We can all help reduce this scenario from continuing by choosing to eat seafood that is fished according to regulations and is sustainable.
Another leading cause of the endangerment of sea turtles is the illegal poaching of them and their eggs. Often used for human consumption, the meat of turtles and their eggs are seen as a delicacy in many areas. Their shells are also used for decoration and ceremonial purposes. While illegal worldwide, poaching is often left unenforced due to a lack of regulation. Since poachers typically work in secluded areas, it is harder for law enforcement to identify and prosecute them. We can help bring an end to poaching by not purchasing any products that contain turtle parts and donating money to organizations that work to end it completely.
Other threats to the sea turtle populations include littering and the casting of wastes into the ocean. Sea turtles’ favorite food are jellyfish. When people dispose of plastic bags in the ocean, sea turtles mistake those bags for jellyfish and eat them.
To help prevent the destruction of sea turtle populations, people can try not walking on the beach at night during the summer or refraining from shining bright lights on the beach. If you see someone disrupting or poaching sea turtles, call the local police immediately. Stay away from turtle nests and don’t do anything that could harm eggs or hatchlings. Most importantly, don’t ever leave trash laying around, especially at the beach.