top of page

Sea Turtles

Understanding sea turtles


Sea turtles are among the oldest and most endangered animals on Earth. They have been living in the oceans for over 100 million years, but now they face many threats from human activities and environmental changes. In Florida, five species of sea turtles can be found: loggerhead, green, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, and hawksbill. They all depend on the sandy beaches of Florida for nesting, where they lay their eggs and cover them with sand. However, these beaches are also used by millions of people for recreation, development, and tourism, which can harm the sea turtles and their nests. Some of the main threats to sea turtles in Florida are habitat loss and degradation, artificial lighting, marine debris, fishing gear entanglement, boat strikes, predation, disease, and climate change. Habitat loss and degradation occur when beaches are eroded, polluted, or altered by human activities such as construction, beach nourishment, or beach driving. Artificial lighting can disorient hatchlings and prevent them from finding their way to the ocean. Marine debris, such as plastic bags, balloons, fishing lines, and nets, can injure or kill sea turtles by ingestion or entanglement. Fishing gear entanglement can also cause drowning, injury, or infection. Boat strikes can cause severe trauma or death to sea turtles that surface to breathe. Predation by raccoons, dogs, birds, crabs, and other animals can destroy nests or eat hatchlings. Disease, such as fibropapillomatosis, a tumor-causing virus that affects mainly green turtles, can impair their health and survival. Climate change can affect sea turtle populations by altering their food availability, nesting habitat, sex ratio, and migration patterns. Sea turtles are vital for the health and balance of marine ecosystems. They graze on seagrass beds and coral reefs, which provide habitat and food for many other species. They also transport nutrients and energy across ocean basins through their migrations. Sea turtles have cultural and economic value for humans as well. They are a source of inspiration, education, and tourism revenue for many communities around the world. Therefore, it is important to protect sea turtles and their habitats in Florida and elsewhere. There are many conservation efforts underway to help sea turtles survive and recover from the threats they face. These include monitoring and protecting nesting beaches, reducing artificial lighting, removing marine debris, modifying fishing gear and practices, enforcing speed zones and wildlife laws, rehabilitating injured or sick turtles, conducting research and education programs, and engaging the public in stewardship activities.

bottom of page