Sea turtles have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, but in an evolutionary instant only man has challenged their very existence. Although protection laws are in place, sea turtles face increasing threats, which are driving them to extinction.
Monofilament line is a major source of entanglement for sea turtles, resulting in severe lacerations, limb amputations, and drownings. Ingestion of plastic bags, styrofoam, and six-pack rings when mistaken as food kills an estimated 100 million marine animals each year.
- Reduce the amount of plastic garbage you produce and always recycle.
- Never release helium balloons… what goes up must come down!
- Discard monofilament in approved receptacles found in most marinas.
- Participate in beach cleanup efforts. www.oceanconservancy.org
- Pick up any floating debris when boating on the water.
To meet consumer demand for seafood, an estimated 400,000 sea turtles each year become victims of indiscriminate fishing techniques, such as long-lining, shrimp trawls, and gill nets.
- If you choose to eat seafood, make informed decisions by using a Seafood Watch Pocket Guide to select items that come from sustainable fisheries www.seafoodwatch.org
Illegal Shell Trade
Hawksbills have been hunted for centuries to create jewelry and other luxury items from their shells. The demand still continues today on the black market.
- Do not buy or consume products made from sea turtles. Purchase artificial products when traveling abroad in an effort to reduce consumer demand for authentic souvenirs.
The leading cause of sea turtle strandings in Florida waters results from impacts with boats while surfacing for air.
- Slow down over turtle feeding areas such as sea grass beds and coral reefs.
- Opt for jet propelled boats or use a prop guard on standard outboard motors.
- Purchase a Florida ‘Helping Sea Turtles Survive’ license plate to contribute to stranding and rehabilitation efforts. www.helpingseaturtles.org
The harvesting of sea turtle meat and eggs in coastal communities severely threatens species survival. Many countries forbid the taking of eggs, but enforcement is lax, poaching is rampant, and the eggs can often be found for sale in local markets.
- Report any illegal tampering with nests, harassment of sea turtles or suspicious activity to local law enforcement. In Florida you can call the FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC(3922)
- Avoid purchasing sea turtle delicacies often sold in countries such as Central America and Asia.
Near-shore lighting generally deters nesting females but can also disorient newborn hatchlings causing them to wander inland where they die from dehydration, predation, or vehicle traffic.
- Turn off lights visible from the beach during nesting season and inform other owners/residents of beachfront properties about nesting sea turtles.
- Contact your local government conservation organization about any inadequate regulations of beach lighting in your area. For more information, look at the website www.myfwc.com.
Florida’s beaches host about 90% of all sea turtle nesting in the U.S., but over 40% are critically eroding due to urbanization and development.
- Help stop unregulated coastal development and non-sustainable agricultural practices by contacting your local legislators and encouraging them to pass and enforce appropriate laws and regulations.
Fibropapilloma, a disease now killing many sea turtles, may be linked to pollution, such as chemicals, oil spills, fertilizers, and sewage runoff in oceans and near-shore waters.
- Use less chemical fertilizers and opt for natural compost instead.
- Buy organically produced food and products.
- Reduce oil consumption by car-pooling, using public transportation, and driving an energy-efficient car.