Essay about Sea Turtles

Submitted By emilyamartin13
Words: 1169
Pages: 5

A Decline of Turtles As We Know Them Sea turtles are large air-breathing reptiles that spend the majority of their long lives in the open ocean waters. They have water-dynamic bodies, large protective shells, and wide flippers to propel them through open waters. Sea turtles reside in tropical and subtropical ocean waters in around the United States and Australia. Since sea turtles commonly reside in areas near the shore, they consume a variety of seaweed, crustaceans, algae and jellyfish. The prehistoric and primitive features of sea turtles show just how long sea turtles have existed and evolved. Scientists have recently discovered sea turtle fossils in sediment laid over 150 million years ago. Sea turtles may have easily been living in our oceans before the extinction of the dinosaurs. For numerous anthropogenic and natural reasons, Sea turtles have begun their rapid population decline. The world may soon find out what life is like without Sea Turtles. Through numerous conservation efforts, we have found that the sea turtles’ disappearing act is due to both environmental and human threats; however, if we act now, we may be able to change the future for this species.
While sea turtles have previously flourished in the open sea and warm coastal waters, they were not prepared for a human-inhabited world. Today, all seven species of sea turtles have been pronounced threatened or endangered (“Sea Turtle Threats”). The exact population numbers are not available because exact birth and survival rates are unknown (“Sea Turtle Status and Trends”). Sea turtle populations are incredibly difficult to
Martin 2 track because of their wide-ranging migration patterns and intermixing of multiple species in the same areas. However, we do know that the population is rapidly decreasing by tracking the number of nests found per year. Since the mid-1990’s, the amount of nests has plummeted (“Status and Trends”). This is a great indication towards the rapid decline of the health and security of sea turtles. Adult females are known to return to the same area to nest every 2-3 years. Because of this, scientists can observe and collect data from one single population. Around the world, beach nesting programs are becoming more and more popular in order to easily count turtle nests. Because sea turtles have a wide range of migration patterns, they are susceptible to risks both along the coast and in the open sea. Environmental accidents such as oil spills and accidental fishing captures have been the causes of death for many sea turtles (“Sea Turtle Threats”). A main reason for the population decrease over the last 50 years is that the animals favor areas that humans favor as well. Beaches and coastal waters are quickly becoming populated with tourist resorts and oceanfront homes. High rise hotels and residencies are popping up on the white sands in tropical areas, such as Florida and Costa Rica. When a female turtle gives birth, she buries her eggs in the sand for incubation and safety purposes. Commercial developers have drastically limited the sand space available to the female turtles. Without a safe place to lay her eggs, the female turtle must leave her unborn at the mercy of rough environmental conditions and predators. Also, many beaches have eroded and/or compacted, making this egg-laying process impossible (“Basic Facts”). Entire nests are often crushed or buried, trapping the hatchlings and killing them. The addition of artificial light by these residencies and attractions on beaches has also turned away females looking to nest (“Sea Turtle Threats”). The turtles are easily frightened and
Martin 3 cannot safely nest with the threat of bright lights nearby. Without proper nesting, the sea turtle population must inevitably decrease. Equally important to the waning of the sea turtle population is the impact of humans on the ocean-dwelling turtles. Their short distance to the shore, and human population, puts them at risk for