2. Threats to Sea Turtles
Only one in every 1,000 or 10,000 hatchlings will reach adulthood. Surprisingly, although they face natural obstacles, it is human threats that pose the greatest danger to them.
Turtles need dark and quiet beaches to nest successfully. Excessive lighting related to artificial light can discourage females from nesting and confuse newly hatched turtles. On the other hand, walls and coastal structures are disrupting turtle nesting sites. Allowing tourist activities on nesting beaches during the nesting season disturbs females and affects the survival rate of hatchlings.
Consumption of Turtles and Eggs
In many coastal communities, sea turtles are hunted during the nesting season, both for their eggs and meat. Although it is prohibited in some places, in others, the enforcement of these laws leaves much to be desired.
Illegal Shell Trade
Hawksbill turtles are famous for their beautiful shells. But their blessing is their curse. The hawksbill turtle population has decreased by 90% in the last 100 years because they are hunted for jewelry and other items.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are accidentally caught in fishing nets worldwide. According to global estimates, the figures are staggering: 150,000 turtles killed in shrimp nets.
Using the Sea as a Dump
It is estimated that over 100 million marine animals die each year due to plastic pollution in the ocean. Turtles mistake plastics for jellyfish (their favorite food).
On the other hand, water pollution, including oil spills and chemical waste, affects both turtles and their food sources.
The temperature of the sand conditions the number of males and females born. The hotter the sand, the more females are born. Sea turtles evolved to reproduce at specific times of the year, ensuring a perfect balance between males and females. In 2018, scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Hawaii discovered that on Raine Island, Australia, the sand temperature rose so much that female turtle hatchlings outnumbered males by 116 to 1!
And it’s not the only effect climate change has on them. Hurricanes and tropical cyclones are putting their homes in jeopardy, flooding their nests, and eroding beaches. And if that’s not enough, rising sea levels reduce their nesting territory.