Save the Sea Turtles
|RACE TO THE SEA: Leatherback hatchlings risk their lives trying to make it to the water (courtesy, David Palange/Oceana)|
Each year, in an effort to continue their species, thousands of sea turtles lumber onto shores all over the world to lay eggs. Months later, tiny sea turtles hatch from their shells and scamper towards the ocean. The arrival of the nesting females and the subsequent hatchling race for the sea has become an annual celebration for travelers who flock to warm-water beaches around the world to partake in one of nature's most accessible spectacles.
Sea turtles often choose the most popular beach travel destinations as their nesting grounds, which is rather convenient for travelers who wish to glimpse this event. Most loggerhead sea turtles nesting in the United States use Florida's beaches, while other turtles use the shores of the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and the Mediterranean coast.
Stumbling upon a ten-foot-wide sea turtle nest can be the highlight of a beach vacation. While taking in sea turtle sightings, eco-friendly tourists can also help protect vital nesting habitats for these gentle creatures. Unfortunately, sea turtle populations are declining around the worldthe Endangered Species Act lists all six species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters as endangered or threatened.
When they finally make it to the sea, the turtle hatchlings become nearly impossible to trace—leaving their ocean locale a mystery. Famed navigators, sea turtles can cross oceans guided by the magnetic fields of the earth. Eventually, females return to the beach to lay their own nests.
Visit one of the serene spots, and the fragile nature of this life cycle becomes apparentas does the need for protecting these nesting areas. In Florida alone, loggerhead nesting has declined by 50 percent during the past decadeto say nothing of the impact that commercial fishing has on the oceans gentlest residents.
In an effort to help prepare you for what to do (and not do), on the following page Oceana presents seven steps to help defend and protect the sea turtle nesting sites.
Help the ocean's gentlest resident by respecting its nesting sites, and by joining Oceana in the fight to defend turtles from the fishing industry's nets and longlines. For additional information, visit www.oceana.org/sea-turtles.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication