No one wants species to go extinct. (I know I might be naïve, but just humor me.) But there are only so many resources out there for conservation, so we can't do everything necessary to protect all species, everywhere, all the time.
Anson Ng's insight:
Species A has declined by more than 90 percent in the past 30 years, and continues to decline
Species B has an enormous range spanning over tens of thousands of kilometers, dozens of countries, and is very abundant, with tens of thousands of breeding females annually. Although it still faces serious threats
For decades, this problem has plagued the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group, which is responsible for assessing the global status of marine turtles
They seem very different, don't they? Would you be surprised to know that the Red List considers both of them to be "critically endangered
Despite the enormous differences between Species A (leatherbacks in the East Pacific Ocean) and Species B (leatherbacks in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean), these two populations
Predators such as raccoons, crabs and ants raid eggs and hatchlings still in the nest
hatchlings make bite-sized meals for birds, crabs and a host of predators in the ocean
In many coastal communities, especially in Central America and Asia, sea turtles have provided a source of food. During the nesting season, turtle 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 the meat. Additionally, people may use other parts of the turtle for products, including the oil, cartilage, skin and shell. Many countries forbid the taking of eggs, but enforcement is lax, poaching is rampant
Scientists estimate that hawksbill populations have declined by 90 percent during the past 100 years. While illegal trade is the primary cause of this decline
Each year hundreds of thousands of adult and immature sea turtles are accidentally captured in fisheries ranging from highly mechanized operations to small-scale fishermen around the world. 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
It is estimated that more than 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. More than 80% of this plastic comes from land. It washes out from our beaches and streets. It travels through storm drains into streams and rivers. It flies away from landfills into our seas. As a result, thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow these plastics, mistaking them for food
Nesting turtles depend on dark, quite beaches to reproduce successfully. 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 hatchlings to become disoriented when they are born. Instead, they will wander inland where they often die of dehydration, predation, or even from being run over on busy coastal streets
Sea turtle nesting beaches everywhere have been substantially altered by urbanization and development. To protect this prime real estate
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. When pollution enters the water, it contaminates and kills aquatic plant and animal life that is often food for sea turtles. Oil spills, urban runoff from chemicals, fertilizers and petroleum all contribute to water pollution
Because sea turtles use both marine and terrestrial habits during their life cycles, the affects of climate change are likely to have a devastating impact on these endangered species. Climate change affects nesting beaches. With melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, beaches are starting to disappear. As the water level begins to rise, the size of nesting beaches decrease. Stronger storms, predicted as a result of increasing temperatures, will continue to erode coastal habitats. Higher temperatures can adversely affect sea turtle gender ratio. Increasing incubation temperatures could result in more female sea turtles, which reduces reproductive opportunities and decreases genetic diversity
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