Sea turtles appeared about 65 million years ago. They are one of the oldest creatures on Earth. There are seven different species of sea turtles: green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, the olive ridley and the flatback. They spend most of their lives in the ocean. Females can be seen at beaches during nesting season.
Unfortunately, six species are classed as endangered or threatened. The greatest threats to sea turtles aren’t only natural predators but human activities. They are slaughtered for their meat, shell and skin and their eggs are taken from their nests. They suffer from poaching, tourist sanctuaries, boat strikes and our disposable lifestyle is horrendously destroying their habitat.
Most of you would have probably seen this video. It’s a sea turtle with a straw lodged in its nostril. Plastic does not belong in our seas.
“It’s only one straw” said 7.6 billion people. Look at what we have done to our marine life
It is upsetting to know that there are more turtles in the same scenario as this one here.
According to Oceana, as sea turtles population decline, so does their ability to fulfil vital functions in ocean ecosystems. Whether by grazing on seagrass, controlling sponge distribution, feasting on jellyfish, transporting nutrients or supporting other marine life, they play an important role by maintaining our oceans.
You and I can do so much to save sea turtles and other marine creatures –
- Let’s reduce our plastic footprint. After watching the previous video, I hope you have decided to not use plastic straws anymore. You can purchase reusable or bamboo straws if you really need to. Single-use plastic bags, bottles, packaging, utensils are a big NO! According to WWF, over half of sea turtles have eaten plastic debris. We need to change our behaviour before it’s too late.
- Something else that we could do as well is to become a responsible tourist and be careful of the sanctuaries we are visiting. Not all sanctuaries are what they claim to be and many often do more harm than good. I visited a sanctuary in Sri Lanka and it was heartbreaking to see how turtles were treated.
I came across many tourists who’d try to hold a turtle weighing 10 times their weight and then dropping it because it’s too heavy. All of this just to get a picture for their social media. Is it really worth it? I also saw tourists taking baby turtles from the tank, holding it to get a picture and then throwing it back in the tank. Many of these hatchlings die due to the shock. Killing an animal for a picture is not worth it at all
Be a responsible and conscious tourist.
A healthy turtle is confined in a small tank. He doesn’t deserve to be in there, trapped! He’s kept in there for tourist attraction.
Baby sea turtles are kept in a tank for several weeks before being released. They only have a certain amount of energy once they hatch. In this case, they are using it all in the tank and they won’t have any energy left for when they are released, leaving them with no hope of survival.
Baby sea turtles do not deserve to be treated like this! They need to be released and start their journey. Sadly, many of those will be kept in tanks for tourists to see. This is animal torture and it shouldn’t be accepted. All of these unethical sanctuaries should be banned and fined.
I’ve only seen a couple of sanctuaries which are ethical and actually helping sea turtles. They keep turtles in tanks for rehabilitation. Once the turtle is healed and fit, it gets released to the ocean. Hatchlings are also taken care of as they’re being protected from poachers.
Conduct ample research before you visit a sanctuary, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible. Make sure your hard-earned money is not going towards animal torture.
- Keep the beach clean – make sure you take your rubbish back with you and if you see any litter on the beach, pick it up. Nesting turtles will thank you 🙂
It is well-known that nesting turtles like a clean beach. Baby turtles were spotted at Versova beach in Mumbai after 20 years, thanks to the largest clean-up action that took place to remove all the rubbish.
- Boats and propeller strikes can injure and/or kill turtles. Be careful of that.
A green sea turtle was killed by a boat propeller in Florida on the 2nd of July. Photo courtesy of Sea Turtle Trackers.
- If you see a nesting turtle, do not disturb her and minimize beach lighting. Turtles only need moonlight. What’s really amazing is that after years of travelling, they return to the nesting ground where they were born to lay their eggs. Take that moment and enjoy it because it’s both educational and emotional. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” – Robert Swan Why are we waiting for someone else to do it? We are more than capable to change our lifestyles and make it sustainable for everyone and everything around us.
Photo courtesy of Ben Hicks and Sea Turtle Patrol
These adorable creatures need our help, let’s save them and make this world a better place for every living creature!
Let’s learn to co-exist 🙂
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