Sea turtles have been on the verge of extinction for some time. Just a couple months ago, in fact, Ontario declared a state of emergency for its sea turtles, and an astonishing six out of the seven species of sea turtles are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species at various threat levels.
The six endangered species are the hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley turtles, which are both classified as critically endangered, the green turtle, which is endangered, and the loggerhead, leatherback, and olive ridley turtle, which are all considered “vulnerable.”
To help you understand the gravity of the situation at hand, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles had a population size of approximately 40,000 in the 1940s, whereas there were only 1,200 left standing by the 1970s.
The only turtle not listed as threatened is the flatback turtle; however, it’s important to note that there’s actually “insufficient data for an assessment.”
Humans are a big part of this problem. Turtles are constantly being injured as a result of human actions, as we’ve hunted them for their shells and meat as well as their eggs.
I’m sure you’ve seen the photos of turtles suffering within fishing nets and, even worse, plastic, and that’s all because of our blatant disregard for the environment, our failure to recycle properly, and our greed for depleting the Earth’s natural resources.
Here’s an example of a turtle stuck in plastic rings:
Turtle populations have also declined due to natural environmental factors such as rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, and drastic changes in weather patterns, or are killed accidentally in other ways, such as being crushed by cars on highways.
In fact, the sea turtles in Ontario that were declared to be in a state of emergency were simply experiencing more injuries, which you can read more about in our CE article below:
How Are Sea Turtles Increasing in Population Size?
The team of researchers analyzed the data of 299 nesting sites for turtles. Their findings showed that 95 of those sites had experienced a drastic increase in the number of nests, in comparison to only 35 that had notable decreases.
There is no identified cause of increase yet, although researchers believe it’s in part due to the increasingly strict regulations being imposed to protect turtle eggs. In addition, there’s been a decrease in sea turtle bycatch, meaning that fewer fishers are accidentally catching turtles while fishing.
Unfortunately, not all sea turtles are totally “in the clear,” as the leatherback turtle population has continued to decline steadily.
“Our findings highlight the importance of continued conservation and monitoring efforts that underpin this global conservation success story,” the researchers explained.
Although things are clearly looking up for sea turtles, it’s crucial that we continue our conservation efforts in order to help the various populations recover. These animals are precious beings and represent a meaningful part of our ecosystem, as all living beings do.
Though this is great news, we still have a long way to go in rescuing sea turtles fully, and we must do whatever we can wherever possible to ensure that these species do not become more endangered! If there are preventative actions we can take that could save another being’s life, then why not take them?
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