Monday, July 14, 2014

Four Ways You Can Help a Sea Turtle

Sea turtles face many obstacles throughout their lives. Crabs, foxes and other natural predators dig up nests and eat the eggs. As hatchlings emerge from the nest, they are vulnerable to sea gulls and large fish as they enter the ocean.  As the turtles grow, they face other predators such as sharks.  These natural threats help keep sea turtle populations in balance.

Green sea turtle hatching. Photo credit: R. LeGuen
Unfortunately, sea turtles also face many human-created challenges.  Changing coastlines by erosion and replenishment can have both a positive and negative effect.  Large holes dug in beach sand can trap a nesting mother or hatchling turtles. Items left on the beach like tents, chairs and trash can prevent the turtles from getting to the water or a nesting site. If turtles ingest the trash, they can become ill. Bright lights from homes or businesses left on at night can disorient turtles emerging from a nest and cause them to move inland instead of to the ocean.  Once in the water, sea turtles face the threat of marine debris. They may eat it or become entangled in it.  Boat strikes also pose a danger, as do fishing nets and hooks.

Young loggerhead sea turtle at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Photo credit: NCAFF
Due mostly to human activities, sea turtle populations have declined. All species found in United States waters are classified as threatened or endangered and are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

You can help protect sea turtles with these four simple actions:
Turn off the lights. If you live on the beach or are visiting, turn off your porch lights at night or install turtle friendly lighting (which may be as simple as using a light bulb of a certain color wavelength). 
Clean up. After a fun beach day, fill in any holes dug. Pack up everything you brought and dispose of all trash in proper receptacles. 
Slow down. Watch for turtles when out boating and slow down if you see any. Also, secure items in your boat so they don’t fly out and retrieve anything that does.
Make a call.  If you see an injured sea turtle or one caught in a net or by a hook, call the sea turtle emergency hotline in your state.

You can find additional information on the National Marine Fisheries website under the Office of Protected Resources or at the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project .  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't worry! Your comment will appear shortly.