Marine Turtles-Their Numbers are Sinking Into ExtinctionBY DIONNE LISTER
I love the ocean. Part of the allure of the ocean, for me, is the animals which inhabit it. There is nothing like sitting in the surf, waiting for a wave, and seeing a dolphin, penguin or turtle swim past. There will come a time when we probably won’t see a turtle swim past if something is not done soon.
Of the seven different types of marine turtles, seven are listed as vulnerable or critically endangered - an alarming number. So how did it get to this for a creature who has been on this earth for over 100 million years, and is anything being done to help these animals?
Even though turtles can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, relatively few of these survive to make it to adulthood with predators culling the hatchlings as they make their way from the shore and out to sea. Other threats to their existence include loss of food sources through pollution and climate changes, drowning in fishing nets, human harvesting of the eggs and the common one facing many animals - loss of habitat due to human intervention.
It takes a decade for a turtle to reach sexual maturity, which slows and hinders their ability to reproduce. Many organisations are doing what they can to assist the turtles in their survival. In Australia, all our six species of turtle exist in waters, which are protected by the Australian Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, but this act can’t stop things such as boat strike (where the blades from a motor hit the animal). Boat strike injures or kills many marine animals each year. Turtles have poor sight and hearing and can’t avoid these accidents. If you are boating in turtle feeding areas, please travel slowly and watch out for any sea creatures.
The Sea Turtle Foundation are carrying out studies into turtle hatchlings and the Save the Turtle Foundation helps by assisting community programs which protect turtle hatchlings and eggs and educating people about the threats to these ancient animals. You can help in the usual way, by making a donation to any of these organisations and if you live on or near the water, be aware and take care.
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