Sea turtles are awesome creatures: gentle and beautiful.
These wonderful creatures have been around for over a 100 million years and today there are only seven species left worldwide:
- Green (Chelonia mydas)
- Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
- Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
- Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)
- Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)
- Flatback (Natator depressus)
- Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
Today sea turtles are listed as endangered species by the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) and are facing numerous threats, some are natural ... most are human:
- Natural threats: eggs are raided by racoons, crabs and ants; hatchlings are threatened by birds, crabs, lizards and dogs as they are crawling towards the sea; when adults they are hunted by sharks and killer whales.
- Over exploitation: although trade in sea turtles is prohibited by CITES, the following activities are still very much present and causing further decline in sea turtle populations: eggs poaching, sea turtle meat consumption, production of ornaments from carapaces (mainly Hawksbill) and production of oil from Leatherbacks.
- Commercial fishing: one of the major causes of death for juvenile and adult sea turtles is by-catch. This is an unwanted catch caused by non targeted fishing techniques. This happens mainly with shrimp trawling, and in the South Eastern US region alone accounts for about 55,000 turtle casualties.
- Debris: plastic bags, bottles, vinyl films, balloons, and other non-biodegradable debris are a deadly meal for sea turtles. Sea Turtles often confuse these items as food sources, they eat them and when ingested they cause suffocation.
- Fibropapillomas: stress and pollution are the major primary cause of a lethal disease affecting sea turtles. This results in a skin tumour which disturbs the turtles vision, swimming and feeding activity. If caught in time this can be cured but if left untreated it will eventually cause death by either further infection or asphyxiation.