Monday, February 23, 2009

Turtle Power!

Yes, it isn't just in popular 1980's cartoons. It's in the more than 45,000 people who have already signed the petition to help protect sea turtles from bottom longline fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. With 6 out of 7 species of sea turtles listed as threatened or endangered, continuing protections for these animals is critical, starting with working to limit the number of deaths each year from irresponsible fishing practices. Snared on sharp hooks or in nets, sea turtles often drown. In incidents of snaring by longlines in 2006-07 the government estimates nearly 1000 turtles were snared, with up to an 80% fatality rate. So call that 800 a year. 800 doesn't seem like that high a number, but consider that we have no idea how many sea turtles there really are because we can only track females who come to shore to lay their eggs. Male and juvenile sea turtles will spend their entire lives at sea.
But wait! There's more!
Fatality rates for sea turtle hatchlings are staggeringly high, due to natural predators alone. Add to that all the trouble man makes for them, and repopulating the oceans becomes a truly daunting task. Sea turtles are constantly losing prime nesting beaches to development, and like the polar bears and their melting ice, sea turtles are faced with the problem of global warming raising water levels and putting much of their nesting habitat under water. Even if the beaches are left alone, nearby lighting from developments can confuse turtle hatchlings, causing them to flounder inland and be run over on roads, die of dehydration, or become prey to domestic cats and dogs.
What more can you do to help besides signing the petition and donating to sea turtle conservation? Defenders of Wildlife has a list for you.


Gill said...

We have to do something to save them. i think everyone who loves nature must signup the petion and donate to save these great creatures. Turtles have lived in this planet earth from the Jurrasic period we cannot afford to loose them. There are only very few turtles living now. We must try to conserve them. Thanks for creating an awareness about dieing turtles.

Jax said...

Thanks for your comment, Gill! It's true that Turtles, like alligators and crocodiles, even sharks, are living fossils in our world, and as such are a very important part of a healthy ecosystem! Everyone with anything remotely resembling a conscience should be signing up to help them in any way they can, so thank you to everyone who has signed the petition, you guys are my heros.