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ENDANGERED: The Green Turtle


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This week on ENDANGERED we're taking a trip to the big deep. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 'the green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species'. They have been labelled as one of the sea floor's lawnmowers, and so their depletion has a knock-on effect on a large amount of the sea's ecosystems. 

Green Turtle - Chelonia mydas

Image Credit: Jim Trodel on Flickr

Why are they endangered?

As with many other marine animals, the green turltle has fallen victim to the actions of mankind in the sea. These include 'overharvesting of their eggs', 'hunting of adults', 'being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites'.

A sea turtle entangled in a ghost net.

Image Credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Wikipedia. 

In addition, it seems that climate change and therefore increasing temperatures are having an unexpected effect on the populations of the green turtle. According to WWF, these 'rising temperatures are turning green turtle populations almost completely female in the northern Great Barrier Reef'A fact that is little known is that the temperature that the turtles' eggs are 'incubated' at 'determine the animal's sex'.

Consequently, this will have a huge impact on populations.

WWF Australia is currently investigating ways in which they can ensure that the gender percentage of the population can be altered in the future to stop the population depleting.

Green Sea Turtle

Image Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region on Flickr

What is being done to help Save the Green Turtle?

Because of the close proximity both humans and turtles live in during egg-laying and hatching season, the utmost care has to be taken at this time. 

A number of charities have released advice for those living near or using beaches. To see more information on this click here.

Trash on beach

Image Credit: Gerry and Bonni on Flickr

One of the main reasons that so many breeding habitats are being lost is due to plastic pollution and rubbish tipping on beaches. Many local efforts are now being made to clear beaches and habitats, however a worldwide effort needs to be made if we are to solve the problem once and for all.

WWF is aiming to 'eliminate bycatch by working with fisheries to switch to more turtle-friendly fishing hooks'. In addition, they are using 'satellite tracking' to help record turtle routes and populations. Finally, they are 'addressing overharvesting and illegal trading'.

WWF recognises that trading in turtles and their eggs is often the result of a 'lack of economic choices'. Because of this, they are working to 'develop alternative livelihoods so that local people are no longer dependent on turtle products for income'. 

The best way you can help is through beach clean ups, making sure any fish you consume is caught using turtle-friendly methods, and by reducing your rubbish. 

Watch one such clean up in India below

Lead Image: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons

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