Sea turtles – facts and issues

Sea turtles facts and issues

Photo by Dominique Nelson-Esch from Pexels

World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated on 16th June. Here are some facts and issues about sea turtles.

Sea turtles have existed on Earth for the last 100 million years. 

Their size could range from 70 cm to 180 cm, their weight from 40 kg to 500 kg!

They have one of the longest lifespans in the animal kingdom, researchers think some turtles could even be hundreds of years old.

They are big travellers and can migrate long distances, although females prefer to nest every year on the same beach.

The carapace is the upper shell of the turtle. The inner layer of the shell has about 60 bones that include portions of the backbone and the ribs, meaning the turtle cannot crawl out of its shell.

Six out of seven species of marine turtle are threatened with extinction due to human actions and lifestyle. 

Photos by Jolo Diaz from Pexels

How people are affecting the life of sea turtles?

  • One in two sea turtles has ingested plastic – often mistaking it for food such as jellyfish. Plastic pollution is the biggest treat for them.
  • 1 in 1,000 marine turtle eggs survives to adulthood. With beaches full of litter and coastal development it is harder for turtles to nest and for hatchlings (Baby turtles) to reach the sea.
  • Turtle eggs and meat are traded illegally. 
  • They get trapped in nets, plastic injuring them.
  • Global warming: rising sea levels can erode nesting beaches; Increasing temperatures determines the birth of more females instead of an equal proportion of males / females and cause coral bleaching that is the habitat for hawksbill turtles.
  • Turtleshell Trade: People use Hawksbill turtle shells as decorations or turn them into products like jewellery and other crafts.
  • Accidental capture: ‘bycatch’ in fishing gear.

Not only are sea turtles in danger, but also tortoises. The Pinta giant tortoise of the Galápagos became extinct in 2012 with the death of world-famous tortoise Lonesome George.

What Can You Do to Save Sea Turtles?

Learn what actions you can take to help save sea turtles by clicking on the link above.

If you live in an urban area far from the sea you could just be more mindful. Do thorough plastic recycling at home and try to avoid buying single-use plastics.

Your synthetic clothes also release microplastics when washed in the washing machine so it is better if you get a filter or a Guppyfriend bag.

The use of chemical products harm marine sea life so you could ditch detergents in your home or self-care products. You can use eco alternatives by making your own toothpaste or lemon and vinegar detergent just as Ludo often does.

Let’s make an origami turtle!

So, these are even better if you use old magazines or other bits of unused paper as Ludo has done.

[References: https://www.seeturtles.org/sea-turtles-threats https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/sea-turtle
The Turtle Extinction Crisis]

World Penguin Day

Today, the 25th of April is World Penguin Day!

World Penguin Day

Penguin in the snow

Jon, as a supporter of WWF, got an email from them giving him some news on their plans. Their aim is to protect colonies of Adélie penguins. They are the smallest penguin but also the most widespread species of penguin in the Antarctic.

Why is World Penguin Day important?

Penguins are among one of the animals most threatened by global warming. They need cold water to survive, and they feed on krill. The survival of krill is very important then but what do krill feed on? They eat algae that lie under the ice, on the surface of the water. Although, with more and more ice melting and warmer waters there is less algae. So, fewer krill and penguins are beginning to starve.  

The increase of temperature and water levels of the Antarctic Ocean is also due to a phenomenon called “El Nino”. It brings storms, floods and rainfall to the Pacific coast of the Americas. And, droughts to Southeast Asia and the western pacific region. El Nino used to happen every 3-7 years around Christmas time but now it seems to be happening more frequently.

World Penguin Day

Penguin chick

Also, with the melting of the ice and warmer temperatures, there is more water vapour in the air which helps generate more snow. During spring, when penguins lay their eggs the snow takes longer to melt. When it finally melts it can leave eggs in cold puddles and chicks not yet able to swim can even drown. The same thing can happen when the ice, now thinner and more brittle, breaks and the chicks may fall into the ocean without having the feathers to insulate them.

World Penguin Day

Photo by Janko Ferlic from Pexels

Some colonies try to adapt and move to more suitable areas but it is not easy for them. Some colonies of penguins have already disappeared and many others have reduced in numbers.

Children can of course help with this change and perhaps as a family you could adopt a penguin. This helps fund projects to monitor penguins and their movements and see how they are being affected by climate change.

Watch this bittersweet documentary and this animated movie

World Penguin Day

The movie: ‘March of the Penguins’, 2005

A bittersweet award-winning French documentary made in 2005, “La Marche de l’empereur”, was about the movement of penguins from the north of the Antarctic. This is where the ocean begins and there is usually more food to the south/centre where the land is more stable. 

Penguins and polar bears, a movie by WWF UK

WWF UK in collaboration with Templar Publishing tried to explain the connection between penguins, polar bears, climate change and human activity with an animation movie based on the book ‘How the Weather Works’ by Christiane Dorion.

As the award-winning author Christiane says: “While climate change requires major changes in the way we design and make all our stuff and produce energy, personal actions are a great place to start!”