The Blog Aquatic » sea turtle http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 A Victory for Gulf Sea Turtles http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/14/a-victory-for-gulf-sea-turtles/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/14/a-victory-for-gulf-sea-turtles/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:32:54 +0000 Kara Lankford http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8747

Blair Witherington

Last September, we asked you to help us protect the Gulf’s sea turtles and today, I have some wonderful news to share. Thanks to more than 5,000 of our supporters, 685 miles of beaches and nearly 200,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico have now been declared critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles. The newly protected areas include floating Sargassum mats, where young sea turtles live and grow.

This victory is an important step toward a fully restored Gulf. During the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, tens of thousands of sea turtles were located in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico where oil accumulated at the surface. The BP oil disaster started during sea turtle nesting season, and as millions of barrels of oil bubbled up from the seafloor that summer, loggerhead sea turtles were returning to the Gulf Coast to lay their eggs. Almost 300 sea turtle nests had to be relocated from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast in 2010, in order for the young turtles to have a better chance at survival. This meant over 14,000 loggerhead sea turtles hatched along Atlantic Coast instead of their home beaches in the Gulf.

Several other environmental organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Oceana played a key role in this victory. These groups took legal action, which forced the National Marine Fisheries Service to act.

Victories like this one inspire me to continue working towards a healthy Gulf. It proves that decision-makers are listening and it reminds me that together, we have the power to make a difference for the Gulf.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/14/a-victory-for-gulf-sea-turtles/feed/ 20
Species Spotlight: Leatherback Sea Turtles http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/30/species-spotlight-leatherback-sea-turtles/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/30/species-spotlight-leatherback-sea-turtles/#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 15:00:19 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3632

The leatherback sea turtle has spent over 100 million years living beneath the ocean’s waves. It is the longest surviving and one of the largest reptiles on earth. With a heritage that goes back to the dinosaur era, the leatherback sea turtle’s impressive list of accomplishments is virtually unmatched.

Leatherback sea turtles:

  • Weigh in between 500 and 2,000 pounds
  • Can reach lengths from 4 to 8 feet long
  • Live up to 100 years
  • Dive to extreme depths, often deeper than 4,000 feet
  • Swim great distances, such as traveling over 7,000 miles

Leatherbacks are noticeably distinct from their sea turtle brethren: their heads are not retractable; their flippers do not have claws; and a specialized, rubbery and flexible carapace exists in place of a hard shell. A warming layer of fat as well as a relatively low metabolic rate and  ability to alter blood flow keeps the leatherback cozy in frigid water.

It should be no surprise, then, that the leatherback also has the distinction of being the most widely distributed sea turtle species in the world. Gliding through the vast waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea, leatherbacks go on an often-perilous journey to reproduce and obtain food.

Cruising for squid, sea squirts and jellyfish (whose tentacles they find a particular delicacy), the leatherback sea turtle utilizes its top secret weapon – backward-pointing spines that cover its mouth and throat. This prevents jellyfish from escaping before being swallowed as dinner.

The female leatherback deposits 60 to 120 eggs during each of the four to five trips she makes to shore per nesting season, often at the same location she was born; this is the only point in her life that she will leave the water. Male leatherbacks never return to shore after making that first momentous and hazardous journey from the nest across the beach and into the water after birth.

On the endangered species list since 1970, most leatherback nesting populations have plummeted more than 80 percent in the Pacific. Scientists estimate that only one in 1,000 hatchlings lives to see adulthood.

This frightening decline stems from habitat loss, boat strikes, the poaching of young turtles and eggs from nesting beaches for human consumption, environmental contamination from oil and gas exploration and extraction, death by injury or accidental drowning in fisheries, and death by ingestion of plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish.

Together, we can work to ensure that this 100-million-year-old marvel does not disappear forever. Ocean Conservancy is helping introduce shrimp fishing gear that helps prevent leatherback sea turtles and other wildlife from being caught and killed incidentally. And our International Coastal Cleanup helps remove millions of pounds of trash from beaches and waterways each year, preventing leatherbacks and other wildlife from accidentally ingesting it.

With your support, Ocean Conservancy can make an enormous impact on the lives of these truly remarkable sea turtles.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/30/species-spotlight-leatherback-sea-turtles/feed/ 1
How to help an injured animal http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/09/how-to-help-an-injured-animal/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/09/how-to-help-an-injured-animal/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 20:15:17 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1374

Note: After receiving questions from readers, I have written a follow-up post here.

While on vacation, I came across a crab entangled in a fishing net at a local, beachside restaurant.  My time working with crustaceans in science laboratories and in the field gave me the necessary familiarity with their movements and behaviors to handle the animal without hurting it or myself. Armed with this knowledge, I quickly and carefully untangled the piece of fishing net that had wound up tightly on the crab and placed him gently back on the local beach.

Without the proper qualifications, attempting to help a hurt animal in the wild could result in further injury. So what should you do if you encounter an entangled animal at the beach?

In cases of marine crustaceans, I wouldn’t recommend picking up a live crab because it’s still a wild animal and you don’t have to be a biologist to know those pinches hurt. The best way to help them is to reduce the chances of entanglement by keeping trash off the beach. If a crab or other small animal is no longer alive (and it doesn’t gross you out), consider disposing of the garbage entangling the animal to protect larger scavengers (such as seabirds) from suffering a similar fate at mealtime.

If you see a sick, injured, or dead marine mammal or sea turtle, please report the animal by calling a stranding center nearest you. Do not touch or move the animal because you could further injure the animal and also hurt yourself. Keep other people and pets at least 50 feet away from the animal because getting too close could stress the animal. Check out The Marine Mammal Center’s seven steps to help a stranded marine mammal for more information.

Many animal injuries are preventable. Most importantly, you and I have the power to reduce those injuries. As the summer rolls on, remember to properly dispose trash (including fishing lines), admire wildlife from a safe distance and enjoy the water!

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/09/how-to-help-an-injured-animal/feed/ 4
How to Help Save Sea Turtles on World Turtle Day http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/23/how-to-help-save-sea-turtles-on-world-turtle-day/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/23/how-to-help-save-sea-turtles-on-world-turtle-day/#comments Wed, 23 May 2012 19:54:34 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=760

Credit: NOAA

This is a guest post from our intern, Katie Tehan.

Happy World Turtle Day! 

In honor of the special day, I thought it might be fitting to celebrate one of our world’s oldest creatures. If you’ve ever had the fortune of seeing a sea turtle in its natural habitat, then you will understand why it is important that we stick our necks out to protect them.

It was not until after I got the chance to volunteer in a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center in Topsail, North Carolina that the severity of the risks facing them became a reality for me.

The hospital is run completely on a volunteer basis, and at the time was nursing 26 sea turtles that had been victims of hypothermia, pneumonia, bycatch, shark attacks, or boating incidents. One sea turtle in particular, named Riptide, swallowed a large fishing hook, which was trapped in his throat, making it impossible to eat. After surgery, Riptide made a full recovery and was released. Sadly, many of the other sea turtles at the hospital would not be able to survive in the ocean, and will spend the rest of their lives in tanks.

Did you know global warming greatly impacts sea turtle development? Studies show that global warming has resulted in decreased hatching rates, and could possibly lead to complete nest failure. And here’s an interesting fact: Increased sand temperatures alter the natural sex ratio of sea turtles, creating more females. In addition, young sea turtles rely on currents to locate prey, but climate change has begun to influence migratory species adding difficulty to their survival. Birds, ghost crabs, and fish are just a few of the predators newly born sea turtles face which is why some scientists estimate only one hatchling out of 1,000 will make it to adulthood.

As summer approaches, sea turtles begin making nests on various beaches throughout the world. As a part of the upcoming nesting season, it is important that we make an effort to keep our coasts clean and protect the fragile nests. You can join the effort to protect sea turtles by always picking up your trash before leaving the beach and turning off beachfront lighting that can interfere with the sea turtles’ path toward the natural light of the ocean horizon. Go even further by taking Ocean Conservancy’s 30 Day Trash-Free Challenge to help us stop trash before it starts.

If you’re interested in volunteering for a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center, learn more here.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/23/how-to-help-save-sea-turtles-on-world-turtle-day/feed/ 4