June is International Ocean Month, and NOAA, The Ocean Conservancy, and Thank You Ocean (among others) have dedicated their social media feeds and public resources using the hashtag: #30DaysOfOcean. If you follow me at all on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen the Beach Clean-up, re-tweets and endorsements of several organizations encouraging marine conservation, awareness and action in the last few weeks.
This month is all about marine habitats and creatures, and today is one of my favorites: #WorldSeaTurtleDay. Today, all efforts are made by these organizations, to focus on informing the public of the many threats these gentle creatures encounter. Its deplorable (Im containing myself from using the word "pathetic" here) that due to our own neglect and behavior, of the mere 7 existing species of sea turtles, most are now considered "endangered", "threatened" or "vulnerable", if not already "Critically Endangered" as is the beautiful Leatherback.
WWF, an organization dedicated to stop the decline and for the recovery of the species, talks about the many threats humans have played a part in towards the precarious state of these incredible animals:
"Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites. It alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. "
In THIS ARTICLE FROM NATURE WORLD NEWS, you can see just how warmer temperatures due to global warnimng are increasing the number of females in Sea Turtle populations, and rising water levels are resulting in the loss of available (and safe) nesting beaches. Not only is the higher temperature resulting in fewer male hatchlings, it also leads to the loss of important foraging grounds for sea turtles and increases severe storms.
As you can see in this info-graphic, turtles are also threatened by commercial fisheries. Often ending as bycatch, thousands of turtles are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks and in fishing gillnets every year.
The good news is, theres PLENTY of ways you can help. Here are a few to get you started:
- You can pledge to purchase only sustainable seafood. Buying food that is certified as sustainable is also a great way to encourage stores, restaurants and other establishments to carry these items.
- You can donate (or even just show your support by spreading the word) to the work of your favorite organization, like the ones mentioned in this piece. I have a fondness for the "broad scope of work" WWF does in THIS particular cause, but even local, smaller organizations like The Brazilian Sea Turtle National Conservation Program, for example, can greatly benefit from your donations.
- You can make sure not to accidentally support illegal trade, by simply keeping an eye out at souvenir shops when traveling. Ask some questions about that tortoiseshell souvenir (same goes for shark teeth, snakeskin products...etc.). Be skeptical, conscientious, and weary of these.
- You can support Sea Turtle Eco-tourism when traveling. In particular sustainable tours & trips benefiting local communities.
Let me know using @KbPodcast, or using #KnowBrainer of how you think we can help protect Sea Turtles. Id love to hear of new ways to support this cause.
FOR EVEN MORE #WorldSeaTurtleDay :
These kindergardners in Dubai released more than 100 critically endangered hawksbill turtles found sick and injured on beaches today: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/turtles-released-into-sea-following-rehab-in-dubai-1.1347855
Here is a link to a beautiful gallery as well, featuring shots of Leatherbacks and Green turtles.. http://www.9news.com/picture-gallery/news/local/science/2014/06/16/celebrate-world-sea-turtle-day/10588853/