Threats to Sea Turtles

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Injured Sea TurtleSome major threats to sea turtles are illegal harvesting, habitat encroachment, and pollution. These are only  some of the things sea turtles must fight against to stay alive.

Natural Predators: The sea turtle must be protected from natural predators from the time the eggs are laid all the way through adulthood. Animals such as raccoons, foxes, ghost crabs, and dogs dig their way to a sea turtle nest buried about two feet under the surface.

Harvest for Consumption : Sea turtles have spiritual or mythological importance in many cultures around the world, this has not prevented humans from consuming their eggs or meat. In many costal communities, especially in Central America and Asia, sea turtles are considered a food source. During the nesting season, hunters comb the beaches at night looking for nesting females. Often, they will wait until the female has deposited her eggs to kill her. Then, they take both the eggs and meat. In some countries, sea turtle eggs are prized as an aphrodisiac.

Fishing Activities: Commercial and recreational fishing cause the death of many sea turtles. Sea turtles drown after getting entangled in fishing nets and fishing line. They take the bait used by long-line fisheries and drown while being dragged behind fishing boats.

Boat Strike: Any vessel can strike turtles and boat strikes are a common cause of injury and death among sea turtles.

Coastal Development: With the encroachment of hotels, parking lots and housing along nesting beaches, female turtles are forced to use less then optimal  nesting habitats.  Newborn hatchlings find their way from nest to sea using the light of the moon. Artificial lighting, such as street lamps and hotel room lights, confuses these hatchlings, sending them landward in the wrong direction. This gives them little chance for survival due to dehydration, exhaustion, predators and automobiles.

Pollution: Pollution such as marine debris and oil, is another common threat to sea turtles. Ingestion of marine debris can cause blockages, affecting digestion and breathing. Entanglement in items such as fishing line can prevent animals from surfacing to breathe, and slows them down, making them more vulnerable to predators.

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