From National Geographic Photo of the Day; July 13, 2018:
Saurabh Chakraborty, National Geographic Your Shot
Every year, millions of tiny, baby Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) hatch on Rushikulya Beach in India. It’s a treacherous journey—experts estimate that only 1 in every 1,000 baby sea turtles will make it to the water before being killed by a predator.
This Earth Day: Lets Skip The Straw!
Much like the author of this article, I could barely get through the very graphic video of the sea turtle bleeding and struggling to breathe after a plastic straw gets lodged in its nose. (video is here… it is incredibly graphic and painful to watch be warned)
These critically endangered creatures face so many human-created obstacles in the struggle to survive, to think we make such an impact by skipping the straws.. seems the least we can do for the sea turtles and all the ocean wildlife impacted by this.
More than 500 million single-use plastic straws are being used by Americans every day. Plastic straws are one of the most common litter items found during beach cleanups.
There are plenty of other options for straw lovers, reusable, paper, etc.. so how about joining us and skipping the straws! A small step that can make a huge difference
Did you know you could be directly contributing to killing turtles with your everyday accessories? Real “tortoiseshell” may look beautiful, but it comes from the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle. We talked about this last year as well, but we’ve seen a mini surge in interest for tortoiseshell jewelry this year. Always make sure you are buying only faux tortoiseshell! Faux tortoiseshell can be just as beautiful, and you won’t be hurting any turtles!
More broadly, you can make a difference simply by taking a second to think about the impact of your everyday purchases on us shells. Minimize using plastic straws that instantly become plastic pollution (and can get lodged in sea turtles’ nostrils – shorter version here). Spend the extra minute to find biodegradable alternatives and environment-friendly chemicals. If we all spend that extra minute, we could save a lot of turtles and tortoises out in the wild!
Wise words, Kirby! No piece of jewelry is worth the life of the incredible, but critically endangered, hawksbill sea turtle! This is particularly important for anyone traveling to the Caribbean and Latin America where the sale of these items is far more common despite laws against it. @shadowdunsparce writes more about it here (and the drawing of a hawksbill is incredible!)
Here’s a guide to identifying real turtlesshell jewelry brought to you by the TOO RARE TO WEAR campaign!
Check out their site for more information and SIGN THE PLEDGE TO SAY NO TURTLESHELL JEWELRY!
And Kirby is right! we can all do our part by minimizing the use of plastic straws, bags, and soda can rings! There are many alternatives out there these days, and taking the extra time to look to save our shell friends in the sea… least we can do if you ask me!
There are 7 species of sea turtles: Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley and Flatback.
All except the Flatback sea turtle can be found in the oceans surrounding the United States.
Almost all species of sea turtles are listed as Endangered.
There are many threats facing sea turtles. Some of these threats are caused by humans and include, bycatch by fishing practices, entanglement in fishing gear, habitat destruction, nest disturbance and climate change.
The sex of sea turtles depends on the temperature of the nest they are incubated in. Cooler temperatures result in more males and warmer temperatures result in more females. Increasing temperatures as a result of climate change are causing the temperature of the nests to be warmer resulting in more females being born than males.
Sea turtles nest and lay their eggs on beaches around the world and females return to the same beach that they hatched on to lay their eggs. Development and human activity has drastically altered and destroyed many nesting beaches.
Learn more about the many threats facing these creatures here
You can help reduce the amount of sea turtles being caught in fishing gear and preserve their nesting beaches by buying seafood that is certified to be sustainably caught, by reporting sea turtle tracks to local conservation organizations (because a nest is most likely nearby & most of these organizations protect them) and by not disturbing any known nests and holding others accountable that do disturb them by reporting their behavior to local authorities.
Sea turtles are protected by the law in the United States so it is illegal to catch or harass them in any way. If you encounter a sea turtle or a nest please do not approach either.
References and resources:
By Laura Todd
Photo: Comber the green sea
turtle being released into the Pacific Ocean off southern California, October
23, 2016, Photo credit: SeaWorld San Diego
I’ve been asked, “What
difference does one turtle make?”
It is absolutely true that
one turtle, in comparison to the entire world’s population, represents a small contribution
to that population. However, rehabilitating
that one individual from an endangered or threatened population can ensure
decades of offspring over a lifespan of up to 80 years.
Every turtle that strands
and is treated, successfully or not, teaches us something. The first lesson they teach us is how to
successfully respond, which is vital to know if we ever have a spill or
catastrophe that causes mass turtle strandings.
And erratic ocean conditions like algal blooms, El Niño, oxygen
depletion, and warming sea surface temperatures are resulting in greater
numbers of stranded turtles.
Additionally, many of the
turtles we have treated are juveniles or very young adults. This age group is crucial as the future
breeding population, and very little is known about them. The period between hatching and return to the
nesting area is known as the “lost years” because when the turtles leave their
nests, they are too tiny to track with conventional satellite equipment, and they
are seldom encountered until the females return to nest 20 or more years later
– unless we find them stranded. And
males are even more mysterious since they spend their lives at sea.
And each stranded turtle we
successfully release has a story with important lessons. A green sea turtle named Comber, stranded in
Canada in 2015 and was released in November 2016, the first ever successful sea
turtle rescue from Canada. With a
satellite tag attached, Comber was released to the sea southwest of San Diego.
He shocked us by heading straight back to Canada! When his transmitter finally failed on March
30, 2017, he was in British Columbia a few miles north of where he stranded,
showing signs of normal turtle activity.
He was able to swim over 1,500 miles in frigid waters in the dead of
winter, and based on another turtle released in 2011, it may be more common
than we know. Two turtles can tell a story, but we need more information to
develop a pattern.
Photo: Tucker in the
hyperbaric oxygen chamber at the Virginia Mason Center for Hyperbaric Medicine
with a team of experts that included Seattle Aquarium veterinarian Lesanna
Lahner and Jim Holm, MD, medical director of hyperbaric medicine. Photo credit:
Hopefully, the pattern will
fill in a bit more brightly this fall. Three sea turtles, stranded in December
2014 and 2015, are returning to the Pacific Ocean on September 11! All three will be equipped with satellite
transmitters to map their travels. And
all three have already provided us with valuable information, teaching us lessons
in treatment of cold-stranding and buoyancy.
A COOL FRIEND
Look at these sea angels!
I feel like most of these turtles are actually leucistic, not albino. The small baby being held looks like it ma be albino, but the others still have quite a lot of pigment on their shells.
They are truly beautiful
Carnival Cruise Line ships tens of thousands of tourists to Cayman Turtle Centre each year, where sea turtles are abused for entertainment and farmed for meat. Help protect turtles now! Sign the petition!
An article on it, if anyone’s curious
a heartbreaking but good article on this. Thanks for adding the link @roymblog
As best as I could figure, these are Olive Ridley turtles, aka. golfinos, the smallest of the sea turtles. Adults are about 84 pounds and 26 inches. About 25 recent hatchling were released this evening right at the beach where we were staying. BEST part of the trip!
Studies suggest that only 1 of about 1000 hatchlings makes it to adulthood. Life expectancy these days is 50 years.
Protecting nests and ensuring hatchlings make through the first steps of their lives (with training and supervision), is a great way to help save the seriously endangered sea turtle population! #ITTW
Loggerhead turtle hatchlings, Heron Island, Queensland, Australia
is there anything better than this? nope.