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TITLE: Are Sea Turtles Worth Saving?




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Sea turtles have played vital roles in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans for more than
100 million years. These roles range from maintaining productive coral reef ecosystems to
transporting essential nutrients from the oceans to beaches and coastal dunes.

Major changes have occurred in the oceans because sea turtles have been virtually eliminated
from many areas of the globe. Commercial fishing, loss of nesting habitat and climate change are
among the human-caused threats pushing sea turtles towards extinction. As sea turtle populations
decline, so does their ability to fulfill vital functions in ocean ecosystems.

Our oceans are unhealthy and under significant threat from overfishing, pollution and climate
change. It is time for us to protect sea turtles and rebuild their populations to healthy levels as a
vital step in ensuring healthy and resilient oceans for the future.

Marine turtle populations around the globe are threatened with extinction, having been heavily
over-harvested and having their habitat increasingly destroyed by mankind. With increased
coastal development, urbanisation and industrialisation, the global population of marine turtles is
in decline. Nowadays, critical measures are urgently needed to safeguard the few remaining
turtle nesting, feeding and breeding sites on beaches and at sea; as well as their migratory
pathways. - See more at:

Project & Objectives

 Raise the awareness of marine turtle conservation needs at regional levels;

 Understand the post-nesting migrations and biology of marine turtles using satellite
 Identify the foraging grounds of endangered marine turtles and linkages between nesting
and feeding population assemblages;
 Share tracking data and findings to relevant authorities and contribute to the development
of a regional marine turtle conservation plan;
 Integrate these conservation initiatives within international conservation agreements on
marine turtles and national programmes.

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LLB – 2B

Are Sea Turtles Worth Saving?

Sea turtles are ancient animals on the earth. They have lived on the earth over some 200
billion years; they saw dinosaurs survive and they saw them die (Velasquez-Manoff, 2007). Even
though sea turtles can survive for a long time, they are in trouble in current time. They have
become one of the endangered species. Their roles are from maintaining productive coral reef
ecosystems to transporting essential nutrients from the oceans to beaches and coastal seashores.

Major changes have occurred in the oceans because sea turtles have been almost
eliminated from many areas of the planet. They are now in danger of destruction and elimination
because of the changes especially brought by human beings. If we change the oceans and
beaches enough to exhaust sea turtles, will those changes make it difficult for us to survive? And
if we choose to do what’s necessary to save sea turtles, might save our own future (Sea Turtle
Conservation Bonaire)?

Roles of Sea Turtles in the Essential Health of Ecosystem

Sea turtles use beaches and the lower part of the shoreline coast to nest and lay their eggs.
All the unhatched nests, eggs and trapped hatchlings are very good sources of nutrients. The
plants along the shoreline coast use the nutrients from turtle eggs to grow and become stronger.
Healthy and strong root systems holds the sand and protect the beach from erosion. As the
numbers of turtle’s declines, fewer eggs laid in the beaches and provides less nutrients. If sea
turtles went eliminated, the plants in the shoreline coast would lose a major source of nutrients
and would not be healthy or strong enough to maintain the shoreline coast, allowing it to wash
away and be destroyed.

Sea turtles eat jellyfish, to prevent the large “blooms” of jellyfish – including the stinging
jellyfish – that are increasingly wreaking havoc on fisheries, recreation and other marine
activities throughout the oceans (Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire). Research has shown that sea
turtles often acts as keystone species (Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire). Sea grass beds grazed
by turtles are more productive than those that are not. Turtles eat sponges, preventing them from
out-competing slow-growing corals. Both of these grazing activities maintain species diversity
and the natural balance of fragile marine ecosystems. If such turtles go extinct, it will cause
declines in all the species whose survival depends on healthy of sea grass beds and coral reefs.
That means that many marine species that human harvest would lost.
Sea turtles, and many species that are affected by their presence or absence, are an
importance attraction for marine tourism a major source of income for many countries. These are
the roles that turtles play in the essential health of ecosystems.

Threats that Led to the Extinction of Turtles

Threats, whether man-made or not, impact sea turtles at all life-stages from eggs to
adults. It is impossible to prevent natural predation, mortalities due to natural causes, or changes
to the environment brought about by climate change. As sea turtle populations decline, so does
their ability to fulfill vital functions in ocean ecosystems are not fully fulfilled. Our oceans are
unhealthy and under significant threat. But reducing or even eliminating human-caused threats is
possible. It is time for us to protect sea turtles and rebuild their populations to healthy level as a
vital step in ensuring healthy and resilient oceans for the future.

In nature, sea turtles face a host of life and death obstacles to their survival. Predators
such as raccoons, crabs and ants raid eggs and hatchlings still in the nest. Once they emerge,
hatchlings make bite-sized meals for birds, crabs and a host of predators in the ocean. After
reaching adulthood, sea turtles are relatively immune to predation, except for the occasional
shark attack. These natural threats, however, are not the reasons sea turtle populations have
plummeted toward extinction. To understand what really threatens sea turtle survival, we must
look at the actions of humans.

Although sea turtles have a mythological importance in many cultures around the world,
this has not been prevented by ever growing presence of humans from consuming their eggs or
meat. In many coastal areas, sea turtles has been considered one of the major source of their food
where they take both the eggs and the meat of the turtles. Other people use some other parts of
the turtle for products including the oil, cartilage, skin and shell for trading. They are also caught
to create jewelries and other luxury items. Illegal trade is one of the primary cause of this
decline, the demand for shells continues today on the black market. The lack of information
about sea turtles leads to many tourist to still unwittingly support the international trade in these
endangered species.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (Marine turtles - Threats, 2007), “Hunting
and egg collection for consumption are major causes of the drastic decline in marine turtle
populations around the world. Adults and juveniles are taken for their meat and their carapace for
decorations (MWW Philippines Organization). Green turtles are caught for their meat, eggs and
calipee. Calipee is the green body fat that has given the turtle its name and it is the main
ingredient in turtle soup” (par. 4).

Global estimates of annual capture, injury and mortality are staggering – 150,000 turtles
of all species killed in shrimp trawls, more than 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherbacks
captured, injured or killed by longlines, and large numbers of all species drowned in gill nets
(The Sea Turtles Conservancy, 2007). Turtles are affected to an unknown, but potentially
significant degree, by entanglement in persistent marine debris, including discarded or lost
fishing gear including steel and monofilament line, synthetic and natural rope, plastic onion
sacks and discarded plastic netting materials (The Sea Turtles Conservancy, 2007). As a result,
thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow these plastics, mistaking them for food which they
ingested they become sick or even starve.

Artificial lightning also is one of the caused in which today, these turtles are endangered,
in part, because they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents to use the
beach. Also, near-shore lighting can cause sea turtle to become disoriented when they are born.
Instead, they will wander inland where they often die for dehydration, predation, or even from
being run over on busy coastal streets.

Marine pollution can have serious impacts on both sea turtles and the food they eat. New
research suggests that a disease now killing many sea turtles (fibropapillomas) may be linked to
pollution in the oceans and in near-shore waters (The Sea Turtles Conservancy, 2007). Marine
turtles are highly susceptible to climate change at all stages of their lives. Potential impacts of
global warming, such as projected sea level rise, can lead to shoreline erosion of small, low-lying
tropical islands. Waves running up the shore during storms will wet the nests and increase egg
mortalities at rookeries in these small islands, possibly decreasing the overall reproductive
success of the marine turtle population (Poloczanska et al., 2009).

Although these threats to sea turtles and destruction of their habitats seem almost
too big to overcome, there are many things within our control that can be changed. Greater
public awareness and support for sea turtle conservation is the first priority. By learning
more about sea turtles and the threats they face, you can help by alerting decision-makers
when various issues need to be addressed.


As sea turtle populations decline, so does their ability to perform vital roles in
maintaining the health of the world’s oceans. Death and injury in commercial fisheries, loss of
important habitat, pollution and climate change are among the many human-caused threats
pushing sea turtles towards extinction. More proactive conservation measures are needed to
protect sea turtles and rebuild their populations to healthy levels so they can fulfill the full extent
of their historic roles in ocean ecosystems. At historic levels, sea turtles will help restore the
health of our oceans and make them more resilient to future threats.

The following actions must be taken to protect and restore sea turtle populations: • Reduce sea
turtle interactions and mortalities in commercial fisheries • Protect key habitat areas on land and
in the water • Pass comprehensive legislation that establishes a system to protect and restore sea
turtle populations