I should be posting about the news that leaked from the Pope but, for one, it was leaked and I just can’t respect that and two, how can I let World Sea Turtle Day pass us by?
Sea turtles were swimming our oceans and laying their eggs in the sand while dinosaurs were stomping around! They have managed to survive, with very little evolutionary change, for 110 million years. It’s no surprise that their biggest threat is the industrialized human.
Of the 7 species of sea turtles, 6 are found in U.S. waters, all 6 listed under the Endangered Species Act. But, this is one area where humans have shown some signs of promise.
Up and down our U.S. coasts and around the world, thousands of volunteers monitor beaches for signs of nesting turtles (like this Leatherback momma’s tracks), so they can protect the nests until hatching (about 2 months later) and then help guide the little ones out to sea. A clutch of eggs generally contains about 110 eggs, but only about 1 in 1,000 turtles will make it in the wild blue yonder.
Many fisheries are limiting turtle bycatch from trawl nets by the use of TEDs – or, Turtle Excluder Devices (I know, isn’t it funny how non-technical that name is!). They basically provide an escape route for trapped turtles – which – as reptiles, breathe air – and would drown in these nets before fisherman pull them up with their catch (hence becoming “bycatch”) – or basically waste. For a turtle that may have been traversing our oceans for up to 80 years to be tossed aside as waste is, well, such a waste. We sent people to the moon almost 50 years ago, you’d think we could’ve figured out how to put a hole in a net for a turtle to get out much sooner, but I digress – this is a good news article!
More fun stuff: Kate Mansfield, a marine biologist from NOAA teamed up with Marisol Marrero, a nail salon technician at “Not Just Nails” in Boynton Beach, Florida and created a satellite tagging device that can be attached to baby sea turtles, that won’t fall off their shells (made of keratin – just like our nails) when their shells grow! They will use this “Keratin Connection” to, for the first time ever, track migration of sea turtles. “Not Just Nails” is right Marisol!
And news that was just released today, rather than just fines and jail time, judges in Dominica have begun sentencing sea turtle poachers to help with sea turtle conservation. Humans in Dominica are the primary predator of sea turtles – with poachers selling 800 pounds of turtle at $10-$13 per pound. They’re banking on the fact that anyone helping these little guys scamper off to sea couldn’t possibly go back to selling them. I think it’s a pretty safe bet.
- Keratin Connection: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/podcasts/2013/05/keratin_connection.html#.VYCLCPnF_TR
- TEDs: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/skimmertrawlnets.htm
- Dominican Poachers Turned Turtle Rescuers: http://caribjournal.com/2015/06/15/this-caribbean-countrys-clever-plan-to-deal-with-sea-turtle-poachers/#