Sea Turtles: Conserving an Iconic Species

By July 3, 2013 October 5th, 2013 Ocean Solutions

Leatherback Sea Turtle - SpeakUpForBlue

Sea Turtles are no doubt an iconic species. A Sea Turtle encounter is life changing…just ask Michael J. Fox, who says he decided to change the way he viewed his illness after he was first diagnosed (he has Parkinson’s disease) after following a sea turtle for hours in shallow water. They are such an iconic species that people dedicate the entire lives to protect them. People also use their vacations to travel to tropical destinations just to work and protect sea turtles from any type of harm.

So today, I want to talk about sea turtles, describe them, the problems they face, what people are doing to protect them, and name an Ocean Leader of the Week (something I’m going to start to do every week).

Just a quick note: Everything I write here is in the video above. Please share the video and/or this post with your social networks to help spread awareness about these wonderful animals. You can do so by clicking the social icons on the sidebar.

Now I’ve discussed Sea Turtles before, but for now I’m going to run through the basics of Sea Turtles.

Sea Turtle Basics

There are 7 species of Sea Turtles in the world: the Leatherback sea turtle; the Green sea turtle; the Loggerhead sea turtle; the Hawksbill Sea Turtle; the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle; the Olive Ridley sea turtle; and, the Flatback sea turtle.

Sea Turtles adults range in size from 2 feet to 6 or 7 feet in the Leatherback. All Sea Turtles have a hard shell except for the leatherback, which bears a series of bony plates beneath it’s leathery skin.

Sea Turtles spend most of their time at sea where they feed on various animals and plants such as algae, seagrass, jellyfish, anemones, molluscs, shrimp, and some fishes. Of course the diet of sea turtles varies among species.

When it comes time to have the babies, female sea turtles swim to a beach, lay their eggs in a newly dug out sand pit, lays between 50-200 eggs, depending on the species.

Protection for Sea Turtles

sea turtles - SpeakUpForBlue

All 7 species are considered endangered and are strictly protected in many parts of the world; especially in the U.S. They are endangered for many reasons. Two major reasons are egg poaching from Sea Turtles nests and entanglement of adults in fishing nets.

For a while, the populations of many sea turtle species were declining fast, but a passionate and active Sea Turtle Conservation community have been working hard to partner with coastal communities, fishermen, and/or governments to help bring these iconic species back from a path to extinction.

Sea Turtle Conservation Success Story

One such example was highlighted in a recent article out of Angola where an almost 10 year program, which works to educate the local schools, families, and fishermen and increase awareness on how human activities can threaten sea turtles.

Over the past decade of the program, the program helped save 9, 000 nests. The number of nests fell from 75 per km to 27 from 1980 to 2000, but then rose again over the past decade, after the program was implemented.

The program is scheduled to continue with no end in site and will hopefully restore the number of nests per km to re-1980 times. Especially since Angola is the 2nd largest exporter of oil after Nigeria.

Many similar programs such as this Angola project exist around the world; however, more programs are needed as well as help from every one to protect Sea Turtles.

How YOU Can Save Sea Turtles

Which brings me to the tip of the day…Here at Speak Up For Blue, we pride ourselves on offering advice as to how to protect the Ocean and it’s species. We offer tips where everyone can do their part and create healthier Oceans.

resuable bag - SpeakUpForBlue

So today’s tip is an easy one, as many of them are. As I previously mentioned, Sea Turtles feed of jellyfish. Unfortunately, they mistake plastic bags floating in the Ocean as jelly fish, ingest them and choke and die on them.

So this week’s easy tip is to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store and switch to reusable ones. My wife and I store out reusable bags in the trunk of our cars to make sure we don’t forget them when we go to the grocery store. I also like them because they are often bigger than plastic bags and you can get some pretty cool designs on them.

Of course, there are other tips out there, so I want to here from you. What is your tip to save and protect Sea Turtles. Add your tip in the Comments below.

Ocean Leader of the Week

Now every week here on Speak Up For Blue TV, we identify an individual or group that demonstrates extraordinary leadership in Ocean Conservation. And since this week’s theme is centered around Sea Turtles, I will name someone in the Sea Turtle Conservation Field.

Tragically, our Ocean Leader was brutually and unecessarilly killed doing what he loves. Jairo Mora Sandoval (26) of Costa Rica was working with the Sea Turtle Conservation group WIDECAST, which monitors Sea Turtle nesting sites and protects the eggs from poachers.

Jairo_Mora_Sandoval_WIDECAST - SpeakUpForBlue

Jairo and his crew work on the beaches in the province of Limon, Costa Rica. The same place which is suspected to be a favorite spot of drug traffickers to move their shipments. Reports on the murder are conflicting but they all suspect drug dealers who may or may not be involved in the Sea Turtle egg poaching were responsible for the murder.

No matter who committed the murder or what events really to place, at the end of the day, the loss of Jairo has devastated the Sea Turtle Conservation Community and the Ocean Conservation Community as a whole. They are both small communities where many of us know each other and have developed great friendships and rally around one another to help fuel our passion to protect the oceans and its species.

Jairo died doing what he loved, saving and protecting Sea Turtles to ensure they will live for future generations.

Now I did not have the great fortune of knowing Jairo, but I would like to express my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Reports of Jairo’s murder are skeptical that his murderers will be found and punished to the fullest extent of the law, but I hope the Costa Rican Police will find the killers and bring them to justice, so that other Sea Turtle Conservationists will feel safe doing what they love.

There is a petition that you can sign to tell the Costa Rican Government to do everything they can to protect a great Ocean Leader. If you feel strongly about protecting Sea Turtles in Costa Rica then you should sign the petition because an arrest and punishment of the killers will help other conservationists feel safe when they go out and work for Sea Turtle Protection.

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