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November 29, 2020

Sea Turtles in Peril

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Photo Credit: Tai's Captures | Unsplash

Sea turtles, one of the oldest amphibian species on earth, are endangered and at risk of becoming extinct. Out of the seven different sea turtle species--the loggerhead, leatherback, green turtle, hawksbill, kemp's ridley, olive ridley, and flatback--the flatback is the only one not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.


What threats do sea turtles face and what are sea turtle specialists and volunteers doing to help the creatures survive? Global warming, pollution, fisheries bycatch, "direct take" (the deliberate capture of sea turtles and/or their eggs for consumption and the use of shell material for crafts and jewelry), and coastal development all harm the amphibians and their nesting sites. However, many organizations are actively working to reduce or eliminate these threats and conserve sea turtle populations worldwide. For example, the State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWOT) program, founded in 2003, is composed of sea turtle experts working with members of the Oceanic Society, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-SSC Marine Turtles Specialist Group (MTSG), Duke University's OBIS-SEAMAP, and a growing international network of institutions. The specialists in these organizations are using drone technology, photogrammetry (the process of generating three-dimensional models from a series of overlapping images), and fluid lensing (an experimental algorithm that uses light wavelengths that transmit through water) to learn more about sea turtle behavior patterns, habitats, and nesting sites. They are also using the technology to project different sea-level rise scenarios resulting from climate change onto three-dimensional models of nesting beaches to predict habitat loss caused by flooding. You can learn more about SWOT's conservation work by visiting https://www.oceanicsociety.org/projects/sea-turtle-conservation. Additional information about the technology sea turtle experts are using to study the creatures and their habitats is available at https://www.seaturtlestatus.org/articles/2020/2/25/drones-in-sea-turtle-conservation-the-sky-is-the-limit.


SEE Turtles, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect sea turtles in Latin America and the world by supporting community-based conservation efforts, has been remarkably successful. The organization provides volunteer and financial support for conservation trips and school programs to educate teachers and students about sea turtles. Since SEE Turtles was founded in 2008, the nonprofit has raised more than $1 million in donations, small grants, fees, and indirect spending for conservation and local communities. Numerous individuals have participated in the conservation trips to patrol and protect nesting beaches and guard hatcheries. SEE Turtles has also provided small grants to conservation partners for such initiatives as sea turtle educational programs in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Visit the seeturtle.org website to read the article "10 Ways to Help Save Sea Turtles" and learn how you can change your everyday habits to protect the creatures' lives.


Why should we care about sea turtles? They are tough, amazing creatures that have been in existence since dinosaurs roamed the earth. They live to about Age 100, have an excellent sense of direction (female sea turtles return to the beach where they hatched when they are ready to lay their own eggs), and are instrumental in eating enough seagrass to keep it short and prevent it from harming other sea creatures. They also help prevent the ocean from becoming overpopulated with jellyfish. As such, they deserve our utmost care and respect.


Resources


1. The State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWOT) program - a global effort to conserve sea turtles

https://www.oceanicsociety.org/projects/sea-turtle-conservation


Contact: seaturtlestatus.org

Read their articles "How You Can Help" and "Threats to Turtles"


2. SEE Turtles 


The SEE Turtles program, sponsored by The Oceanic Society, works to protect sea turtles through ecotourism. If you participate in one of their sea 

turtle-focused volunteer vacations in Latin America, you'll gain hands-on experience while supporting field-based conservation.


Contact: Oceanic Society

                  P. O. Box 844

                  Ross, CA 94957


Telephone: Farallon Islands and Half Moon Bay whale-watching: 1-415-256-9604

Expeditions and general inquiries: 1-800-326-7491

CA office hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM (PDT/PST)

DC Office Hours (expeditions): Mon.- Fri. 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (EDT/EST)


3. EcoWatch


"EcoWatch: Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life"

"9 Super Cool Facts About Sea Turtles" by Care2, June 16, 2016

https://ecowatch.com/9-super-cool-facts-about-sea-turtles-1891175453.html