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  • Writer's pictureLouise Talbot

Green Sea Turtles: A Fight for Survival

Green sea turtles are one of the world's most ancient creatures and have been swimming in our oceans for over 100 million years. They are known for their beautiful green and brown shells, which can grow up to 5 feet in length. However, today they face an uncertain future due to the devastating impacts of climate change.

Rising Temperatures

As the Earth's temperature continues to rise, so too do the temperatures of our oceans. This has a profound impact on the habitats and feeding patterns of green sea turtles. Warmer waters can lead to an increase in harmful algal blooms, which can be toxic to the turtles. It also affects the growth and reproduction of the turtles, which can ultimately lead to a decline in their population. A study conducted by the University of Exeter found that rising temperatures caused by climate change can cause a gender imbalance in green sea turtle populations, with more females being born than males due to warmer temperatures.

Rising sea temperatures also impact the food sources of green sea turtles. In particular, sea grass beds are a vital food source for juvenile and adult turtles. These beds are in decline due to a combination of factors, including rising water temperatures and ocean acidification. This puts turtles at risk of starvation and further population declines.

Rising Sea Levels

Rising sea levels are also a major concern for green sea turtles. As sea levels rise, beaches and nesting grounds that the turtles depend on for laying their eggs are slowly disappearing. This loss of habitat can lead to a decline in the turtle population, as fewer turtles are able to reproduce and hatchlings struggle to make it to the sea. In the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists found that sea-level rise of just 50 centimeters could destroy up to 70% of green sea turtle nesting sites.

Baby Turtles - Shaylon Elmore

In addition, sea level rise can also cause beach erosion, which can result in the loss of nesting areas. Nesting females may also face difficulty finding suitable nesting sites, which can increase their vulnerability to predation.

Plastic Pollution

Another major threat to green sea turtles is plastic pollution. Plastic debris in our oceans can be ingested by turtles, leading to blockages in their digestive system, which can be fatal. It can also entangle the turtles, leading to injuries and even drowning. In 2018, a green sea turtle was found off the coast of Thailand with over 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach, weighing over 5 kilograms.

What Can We Do?

There are several things that we can do to help protect green sea turtles and their habitats. One of the most important is reducing our carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources, reducing energy consumption, and supporting policies that address climate change.

Here are some actionable steps that we can make to aid these turtles:

  • Reduce your plastic consumption. Plastic pollution is a major threat to sea turtles. By reducing your use of single-use plastics, you can help to protect sea turtles and their habitats.

  • Choose sustainable seafood / Choose a plant based diet. If you eat seafood, choose to eat sustainable options. Sustainable seafood is caught using methods that do not harm sea turtles or their habitats.

  • Volunteer your time. There are many organisations that need volunteers to help with sea turtle conservation efforts. By volunteering your time, you can make a difference in the fight to protect these amazing creatures.

Charities to donate to that help Green Sea Turtles

  • Sea Turtle Conservancy : This organisation works to conserve sea turtles and their habitats worldwide.

  • The Leatherback Trust : This organisation focuses on the conservation of leatherback sea turtles, the largest sea turtles in the world.

  • Oceana : This organisation works to protect the oceans and all marine life, including sea turtles.

  • Turtle Island Restoration Network : This organisation works to conserve sea turtles and their habitats in the Pacific Ocean.

By taking these steps, we can help ensure that future generations can enjoy the sight of these beautiful creatures swimming in our oceans, and that they can continue to play an important role in our planet's delicate ecosystem.

In conclusion, climate change is having a profound impact on green sea turtles, threatening their habitats and putting their survival at risk. By taking action to address climate change and reduce plastic pollution, we can help protect these amazing creatures and ensure that they continue to thrive for generations to come. Green sea turtles have been around for over 100 million years, and with our help, they can continue to grace our oceans for millions more.

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