There are some things that happen in this world that make me sick to my stomach and the abuse of animals is high on my list. I wrote about this topic a while ago but didn’t post it because I thought it was too formal for my blog. Now I don’t care, I just want to spread awareness and hope I can make even a small difference in this issue. Sea turtles are dying and we need to do something about it. A picture that recently went viral of two guys “surfing” on a sea turtle in Australia also compelled me to finally to finish this post.
That makes me sick. I wish I could bring out a rhino and put two on their backs. I just want to know WHY?! Why do some people think this is ok?! Do they think animal abuse is cool and funny?!
Almost all 7 species of sea turtle is endangered. Without them the entire ecosystem would change. Sea sponges would become overgrown which leads to them killing coral reef, seagrass would also become overgrown meaning that other fish, crustaceans, and shell fish would also die out and even humans would be affected by this loss. Say good-bye to snorkling and, oh yea, those crabs legs you enjoy, not anymore, or the salmon you want to have for dinner, nope. Unfortunately, idiots like these two guys are not the only reason turtles are endangered.
While I was in Barbados in July and August I was lucky enough to be around when a turtle’s nest hatched on the beach. Before we knew it baby turtles were EVERYWHERE! It was so exciting and they were so cute. But they were not heading towards the ocean, they were heading towards the road. We grabbed some buckets and started gathering all the babies. I wish this wasn’t the reality but some of those newly hatched babies got the road before we could rescue them and cars went by. Those baby turtles lasted maybe 10 minutes outside of their shells before dying.
Here’s one of the little guys I helped steer in the right direction:
Naturally there is a small percentage of baby sea turtles that even make it to full grown reproducing adults but when you add all these other factors the percentage gets even smaller. Then you have people who think it’s “cool” to “surf” on them?! It infuriates me. In some articles the two guys have claimed that the sea turtle was already dead. This almost makes it even more sickening. They want to stand on a dead sea turtle to look cool for a picture?
There are three species of sea turtle that have been documented in Barbados: Leatherback, Green, and Hawksbill. I personally have not seen a Leatherback there (yet), but I’ve swam with the Green turtles and was privileged enough to have helped baby Hawksbills start their lives.
All of those are considered critically endangered or endangered. Ok, but what does that mean?
Endangered: “in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future”
Critically Endangered: “facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future”
3 Reasons Turtles are Endangered
1. Habitat Loss: As I mentioned before, as humans begin to develop the beaches with houses etc. there are fewer places for nesting momma turtles to lay their eggs. This forces them to lay them in locations that could risk their eggs or the babies once they’ve hatched (if they get to that point). Turtles are phototactic, meaning they are attracted to light. Usually when the eggs hatch the baby turtles will follow the brightest light which used to be the moonlight reflecting on the water. Now a lot of babies are following artificial light from hotels, restaurants and beach houses and end up going in the wrong direction.
After that first night when we rescued and redirected most of the babies back to the ocean there was another nest that hatched a few days later. I was devastated to find out that almost all of them were killed by cars because they hatched when no one was around to redirect them. I got to the beach around 3:30 PM and there were a couple straggling babies in our friend’s patio. They were lucky to be alive at that point because even though they didn’t get to the road, they had been out in the sun all day and could’ve died from dehydration! We put these three little babes in a container with water before releasing them in the sea once they regained some strength.
2. Litter & Pollution: plastic bottles and plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish causing turtles to suffocate, get stuck, or choke on them. Another huge problem is balloons. I know it has become a popular gesture to release balloons in honor of someone but those balloons don’t just float into space. Eventually they come down and often end up deflated in the sea. Here’s a video to see how plastic can affect a sea turtle. I’m warning you though, it’s a little graphic so view at your discretion.
3. Over Harvesting & Illegal Trade: Barbados and other places have made it illegal to catch or consume sea turtles in any way. Unfortunately this law hasn’t caught up with everyone so some people still eat turtles and their eggs, they may make jewelry out of the turtles’ shells
What Can You Do To Help?
There are many ways you can help save sea turtles even if you don’t have direct access to them!
- Reduce your chemical use and dispose of it correctly
- Reduce your plastic use and recycle
- Don’t release balloons into the sky
- Adopt a sea turtle here
- Turn off beach lights
- Report any nests you find
- Don’t ride them.
I know this isn’t my usual light and fun post but I really hope I have shed some light on this issue. It means a lot to me and I just wish people would realize that we are all part of this earth and how it works so we have to live together. Humans are quickly killing off a creature that has been around for millions of years. We can’t keep being the cause of other species going extinct because we can’t live without them.
On a lighter note, here is a GLOWING sea turtle that may have just been discovered!