Today’s animal in our weekly In Danger segment is the sea turtle.
This animal is near and dear to my heart as it is my favorite animal and reminds me of my painted turtle that I rescued from living in a fishbowl. Sea turtles are over 100 million years old and today nearly all species of sea turtle, from coast to coast, are endangered. When you observe a sea turtle, it looks like they can come out of their shell. There was an old cartoon called Franklin where each night he would crawl out of his shell like he was shedding clothing. As cute as that cartoon was, that’s not how it works in real life. The shell is the turtle’s lifeline. Along the inner shell curve is the turtle’s spine. If a turtle breaks its shell, it’s dead.
The reasons sea turtles are endangered are entirely because of humans. It’s really sad but very true. Humans poach these little guys for their eggs, meat, skin and shells. Sea turtles are often caught in human fishing nets. Climate change has changed the ocean temperatures as well as the sand temperatures where sea turtles lay their eggs. Humans also seriously pollute the ocean. If you’ve never seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, look it up. Sea turtles often get caught in plastic pop or beer can rings or ingest plastic pieces because they look like food which leads to them getting sick and dying. One last thing, on this long list of depressing facts, humans touching sea turtles can make them sick. I found this out when I lived on the island of Maui for a few months. It’s actually illegal to touch a sea turtle but most people don’t know that or don’t care. The oils from human skin affect a sea turtle’s skin and cause these huge white pustules of fungus to grow on them. I’ve seen them first hand and they’re not pretty.
For the sake of this beautiful creature, please spread awareness or even donate to places like World Wildlife Fund to help bring sea turtles off the endangered list. You can even adopt a turtle! Check out WWF’s page for more information on sea turtles and other endangered species they are striving to help survive.