Sea turtles, which have roamed Earth’s oceans for over 110 million years, play a vital role in marine ecosystems. They maintain coral reefs, seagrass beds, and even help control jellyfish populations. Furthermore, sea turtles contribute to local economies through ecotourism. However, their populations are declining due to various threats.
Human activities, particularly accidental capture by fishing gear, pose significant dangers. Thousands of marine turtles fall victim to these incidents each year. Additionally, the beaches crucial for their nesting are disappearing, compounding the challenges they face.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) collaborates with communities to protect nesting beaches, minimize egg harvesting, and promote turtle-friendly fishing practices.
Sea turtles have long lifespans, similar to humans, living up to 50 years or more. They take decades to mature, becoming actively reproductive between 20 and 30 years old and continuing for another 10 years.
Nearly all seven sea turtle species are classified as endangered, primarily due to human activities. Accidental capture, illegal trading of eggs, meat, and shells, and climate change affecting nesting beaches and eggs pose severe threats.
Sea turtles inhabit various regions worldwide, from the cold waters off California to the warm Coral Triangle beaches. Males remain in the ocean, while females come ashore during nesting seasons.
Their diets vary by species, encompassing seaweed, jellyfish, squid, barnacles, sponges, sea anemones, and more. Herbivores like green turtles primarily eat sea grass and algae.
Migration is a defining trait, with sea turtles traversing thousands of miles between feeding and breeding grounds.
During nesting seasons, females lay two to six clutches of eggs, each containing 65 to 180 eggs. Climate change affects hatchling sex ratios, impacting their populations.
While most sea turtle species possess hard shells, leatherback turtles boast more flexible, leather-like shells. These turtles are also the largest, weighing up to 1,500 pounds.
Sea turtles’ survival depends on collective efforts to protect habitats and mitigate human-induced threats.