5 Biggest Threats That Are Leading Towards Sea Turtle Extinction
If sea turtle husbandry practices are not changed, almost all sea turtle species are threatened and will almost certainly become extinct within a few decades. There are many threats to sea turtle survival, both natural and human-caused. The following are the five biggest human-controlled threats.
The Biggest Threat to Sea Turtle Survival
1. Illegal Turtle Poaching
Although almost every country has laws protecting sea turtles, the illegal trade in their eggs, meat and shells is a threat to the survival of these species. Due to continuous poaching, all seven species of sea turtles are considered endangered. Turtles are harvested in many countries for their meat and eggs.
On the other hand, turtle shells and skins are used to make jewelry, tourist trinkets, sunglasses, and decorative arts. Although many regions have laws prohibiting turtle hunting, these laws are rarely enforced, especially in poor areas where the turtle trade is their only source of income.
2. Seawater Pollution
Oil spills in the oceans pose countless threats to the survival of sea turtles, as they can cause direct damage to their bodies. In addition, agricultural and industrial runoff, toxic metals, chemicals, and untreated sewage pose a threat to turtle habitats. These pollutants will accumulate in the turtle’s tissues, boost the immune system, cause illness and death.
3. Climate Change
One species directly affected by climate change is the sea turtle. Climate change can significantly alter the natural environment, changing feeding and breeding cycles. Melting polar ice caps cause sea levels to rise, which can erode or even submerge beaches where turtles lay their eggs. Increasingly powerful storms destroy crucial turtle nesting grounds, destroying the next generation before they can see the light.
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4. Garbage thrown in the Sea
Trash dumped in the ocean is the cause of hundreds of thousands of marine animal deaths every year due to human waste settling in rivers, oceans and waterways. Dead sea turtles are more often found to have plastic bags inside their stomachs, which are easily mistaken for the turtle’s main prey, jellyfish. Plastic straws are also large enough to become embedded in the turtles’ nostrils, causing their painful deaths.
5. Development in coastal areas
Millions of species, including sea turtles, are threatened by increased construction of houses, hotels, restaurants and roads in coastal areas, leading to beach erosion and pollution, which is rapidly destroying the turtles’ native habitat. Once sexually mature, sea turtles always return to the same beach where they hatched. Turtles are pushed out of their ancestral home due to the presence of humans, furniture and other objects. This disrupts the once perfect balance of the ecosystem.
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