We are probably all familiar with the sight of a sea turtle peacefully paddling its way through the ocean. We’ve seen them on television or at aquariums. Or maybe you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the sight of baby turtles as they make a run for the surf from their nests in the beach sand. There are seven species of sea turtles in the world and six of them are native to U.S. waters: green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, and olive ridley. That kind of makes it sound like turtles are thriving here, doesn’t it? Nope. Every one of those species is listed as either Endangered or Threatened. The hawksbill and the Kemp’s ridley, smallest of the species, are considered critically endangered.
The threats to turtles come from many sources. They can become caught in the nets used for fishing as well as the lines associated with traps and pots. Turtles entangled in this gear often suffer serious injuries to their flippers and can even drown. In addition, long line fishing gear can even hook turtles. Other types of commercial fishing, like the use of heavy dredges dragged along the ocean floor, can crush and entrap turtles.
Pollution–everything from oil spills to common garbage–has also contributed to the decline of sea turtles. When turtles feed they can accidentally ingest marine debris such as tar balls, plastic bags, and balloons. They can easily become entangled in discarded fishing gear or other trash, like plastic six-pack holders.
But the threats to turtles are not only at sea. Loss of nesting habitats due to over-development has had a huge impact. Even things like excessive artificial lighting near beaches have an effect on turtles. When hatchlings emerge from their nests, natural instinct tells them to go toward the brightest light source, which would be the horizon over the ocean on a dark beach. If hatchlings wander away from the sea toward other light sources they are exposed to predators and can quickly become exhausted.
We encourage you to read more about the plight of sea turtles and find ways you can help. There is plenty of information out there but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a good starting point.
To donate to Sea Turtle Conservancy, a wonderful non-profit dedicated to saving turtles, please click this link:
So that sea turtles are never far from your mind, Beach Décor Shop is happy to offer many sea turtle home decor items that pay tribute to our favorite marine reptile. Check out Sea Turtle Glasses, Sea Turtle Outdoor Pillow and don’t forget to help with the cause: