Monday, February 1, 2010

A Little Treasure of the Sea Makes a Guest Appearance

After a spell of sudden frigid weather hit the east coast the beaches became inundated with cold-stunned sea turtles. One tiny turtle that was affected by this adverse weather was a hawksbill, which is extremely rare to the Carolina beaches. The hawksbill was found along the water’s edge in Corolla when a beach walker spotted the stranded turtle and called a rescue team. After being taken to the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, the turtle was transported to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The small, brown colored turtle called the Aquarium at Fort Fisher home while it was nursed back to health and was then transported to Sea World in Florida where they will continue to rehabilitate it and release it into warmer Florida waters, where they are commonly found.

These small beauties of the sea are critically endangered; their global population has declined by 80 percent during the past century and is projected to continue to decline. The decline of the hawksbill is due largely in part to human exploration for tortoiseshell. Threats due to loss or degradation of nesting habitat from coastal development and beach armoring, disorientation of hatchlings by beachfront lighting, marine pollution and debris, watercraft strikes, and excessive nest predation by native and non-native predators are all factors in the decline of the hawksbill population. The current major threat to these creatures is habitat loss of coral reef communities. It has been shown that the recent increase in global climate change has caused a decrease in coral reefs due to coral diseases that can ultimately kill entire coral reef communities. Hawksbill turtles utilize coral reefs as a habitat as well as a food supply.

Efforts to protect the hawksbill must continue in order for this creature of the sea to thrive again in the future. These beautiful turtles are globally migratory, crossing between nations on a regular basis. Negative activities by some nations can trickle into other nations, and conservation efforts will prove to be ineffective. U.S. protection efforts alone will not save the hawksbill, we must work together to globally save this amazing species.

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