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Protect Sea Turtles From Extinction

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Worldwide, six of the seven sea turtle species are classified as threatened or endangered due to human actions and lifestyles.

Of the 360 known turtle and tortoise species, 187 are classified as threatened by the IUCN Red List criteria. Of these, 127 are endangered or critically endangered, and could go extinct by the end of the century<sup1.

Sea turtles could disappear even earlier.

There are currently seven remaining species of sea turtles in our oceans, six of which are classified as threatened or endangered due to human actions and lifestyles. Three of the seven species are classified as critically endangered<sup2.

The sea turtle population has been in sharp decline over the last 200 years, as humans have slaughtered the animals for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells. Sea turtles are also threatened by habitat destruction and being caught up in fishing gear<sup3.

The IUCN has identified five major hazards to sea turtles: fisheries, direct take, coastal development, pollution, and climate change, all exacerbated by humans<sup4.

Legislative efforts and extending Endangered Species Act protections to sea turtles have helped bring down sea turtle bycatch mortality<sup5, but there is still much work to be done to protect sea turtles from extinction.

Take the Sea Turtle Pledge and show your support!

More on this issue:

  1. Liz Kimbrough, Mongabay (8 July 2020), "Turtles and tortoises in trouble: More than half of all species face extinction."
  2. See Turtles, "Sea Turtle Threats."
  3. World Wildlife Fund (2022), "Facts."
  4. IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, "Burning Issues."
  5. Abel Valdivia ,Shaye Wolf, Kieran Suckling, PLOS ONE (16 January 2019), "Marine mammals and sea turtles listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are recovering."
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The Pledge:

I acknowledge that our world's sea turtles are facing threats that could soon drive them to extinction, and pledge to do my part to help these animals by taking the following steps:

  1. Refuse turtle or tortoise shell souvenirs.

The tortoise shell trade is the biggest threat to hawksbill sea turtles, whose shells are used as decorations or turned into products like jewelry and other crafts.

  1. Reduce my carbon footprint.

Warming oceans are killing off coral, which is important to the survival of sea turtles. Warm waters also disrupt turtle reproduction patterns and force predators into new areas where they can kill more turtles.

  1. Avoid buying seafood or choose responsibly caught seafood.

Commercial fishing methods like trawling, longlines, and drift gillnets lead to many turtles being picked up as bycatch, killed and tossed back overboard.

  1. Cut out plastics.

More than 100 million marine animals are estimated to die each year as a result of ingesting or getting entangled in plastic. Avoid using disposable plastic bags, bottles, and straws whenever you can.

  1. Pack it in, pack it out.

When visiting a beach where turtles nest, make sure to clean up any trash left behind, and clear any obstacles that may become hazards for nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

  1. Turn off the lights.

Sea turtles prefer to do their nesting in darkness. Intrusive light from new developments not only discourage female turtles from nesting in their traditional spots, but can confuse hatchlings as they attempt to make their way to the ocean.

  1. Don't let balloons go.

Even from hundreds of miles away, a helium balloon can still find its way to the sea. There, sea turtles often mistake deflated balloons for jellyfish, eat them and die.

  1. Be a sunscreen snob.

The chemicals in your sunscreen, particularly "oxybenzone," can damage coral reefs and pollute turtle habitat. Look for brands labeled as "Reef Friendly" and avoid polluting the sand where turtles nest when you apply it at the beach.

  1. Participate in coastal clean-ups.

Trash in the ocean can harm sea turtles and other creatures that live there. Keep the beach clean and help turtles thrive!

  1. Never abandon fishing gear.

Hooks, lines, or nets left in the water can entangle and kill sea turtles. Don't leave these things behind where they can wash into the ocean.


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