Every May 23, the world celebrates what is known as “World Turtle Day.” It is a phenomenon that is mostly sponsored by the American Tortoise Rescue, which came into being in the year, 2000. Marking the World Turtle Day is as a result of the amazing desire of amazing well-meaning people, governmental and non-governmental organizations to bring attention and teach others about one of the earth’s oldest living creatures.
The World Turtle Day is set aside as a day to encourage the action and inaction to assist these wonderful creatures of the sea to survive and thrive, hoping that we humans can become more vigilant. This is what Sandy Ripple is seeking to achieve—get people to help in saving endangered turtles.
Scientific findings and information from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have discovered that, out of the 207 species of turtles that exist today (both land and sea based turtles,) 129 are now classified as being endangered or threatened. What this mean is that, within a short time, these awesome creature of nature would vanish from the world list of animals, and would no longer be seen. Putting this in other terms, 62% of the current world species of turtles are in danger of becoming extinct in the nearest future. This is incredibly serious. These are wonderful creatures that need all the attention us caring humans could give them. They need to be protected by humans from humans.
The sea turtle: Now, our focus here is going to be on the sea turtle. There are 7 different species of the sea turtle which can be found around the world. From the shallow seagrass bed of the Indian Ocean, down to the beautiful reef of the Coral Triangle, and even extending to the sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific, the sea turtle grace majestically on our ocean waters. These creatures have made the oceans home for millions of years, undisturbed.
But people with greed, or simply just naive to the matter won’t let them be.
And unfortunately today, human activities—sometimes intentional—have tipped the scales against these peaceful marine lives, in so much that their survival now depends on us.
It is extremely painful and equally shameful that out of the seven species of the sea turtle, six are classified as “Endangered,” a term used to express that the species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. You can imagine!
The sea turtle species that can be found in different oceans of the world are the Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, Green Sea Turtle, Leatherback and the Olive Ridley. They live in both warm and cool ocean waters. The seventh specie is the flatback, which can be found in Australia.
Below are the different types of sea turtles that are facing extinction this day.
Leatherback Sea Turtle - Image By Bernard Dupont
Known scientifically as “Dermochelys coriacea,” the Leatherback is the world largest turtle ever to grace the earth. It is also the fourth largest of the reptiles, with only three species of crocodile beating it for size. The Leatherback has an oily flesh and a covering of skin, rather than a bony shell. These features are some of the reasons why it is commonly called the name it is today. The Leatherback can be found in every ocean of the world. It is a wide-range turtle species that is often caught, not deliberately, but as a bycatch by fisheries.
The largest threat to this species is the influx of plastic bag and balloons that resemble jellyfish in the oceans of the world. Sea turtles love to snack on jellyfish, if you can just imagine a plastic bag in water and how a sea turtle can become confused. The threat to Leatherback Sea Turtles is tagged “Vulnerable,” meaning it’s at a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Check out our full post about the Leatherback Sea Turtle.
The Ridley Sea Turtle is the rarest species of turtles.
You can find it in the Atlantic Ocean, mostly along the United States eastern coastline—from New Jersey down to Mexico.
The biggest danger this species faces is shrimp trawls.
Loss of habitat where the females can return every year to lay eggs is also another source of worry.
The threat tag on the Kemp’s Ridley is “Endangered,” meaning it’s facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Here's our entire post on the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle.
Scientifically known as Chelonia mydas, the green sea turtle is one large species, possessing a carapace (the turtles hard upper shell) measuring 3 feet in length.
An average green turtle can weigh up to 350 pounds.
Typically, their carapace may consist of green, yellow, brown, black and grey shades.
Beautiful pigmentation sometimes characterized their scutes, making it look like a sun’s rays.
Green turtles can be found in sub-tropical and tropical waters of the world.
The green turtle is classified as “Endangered.” (on a very high risk of extinction).
You can also check out our post including everything you need to know about the Green Sea Turtle.
Scientifically known as “Caretta caretta,” the Loggerhead Sea Turtle has a large head and a reddish-brown color.
Typically, they are the most common of the turtles that love to nests in Florida.
These turtles can weigh up to 400 pounds and measure 3.5 feet in length.
Loggerheads are found mostly in tropical and temperate waters throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Scientifically called Eretmochelys imbricate, the hawksbill turtle grows up to 3.5 feet in length while carrying a weight of 180 pounds.
The reason they were called Hawksbill is that they have a beak that resembles that of a raptor.
Hawksbill turtles have an extremely elegant tortoiseshell pattern on their glorious carapace.
Because of their shells, they were hunted nearly to extinction.
Hawksbill turtles can be found among rocky areas, reefs, estuaries, lagoons and mangrove swamps.
They live mostly in sub-tropical and tropical in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.
The threat to the Hawksbill species of sea turtles is described as “Vulnerable,” meaning it’s in high risk of extinction in the wild.
Check out our post on the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, if you're interested in learning more.
Named after their olive-colored shell, the olive ridley turtle is similar to its kemp’s ridley kin—they are small in size and weigh below 100 pounds.
You can find the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in tropical regions of the world. The threat to this species of sea turtle is tagged “Vulnerable.”
Flatback Sea Turtle - Image by Lyndie Malan
Scientifically called Natator depressus, flatback sea turtle derived their name from their flat carapace, which has olive grey color.
The flatback turtle is the only sea species of turtle not found in the United States.
It is found only in Australia. It lives in coaster waters.
The Flatback Sea Turtle is the only sea turtle that scientists haven’t been able to quantify regarding the threat of endangerment, partly due to the fact that it is found only in Australia.
Therefore, this species has not be classified as endangered species.
There are some other species of turtles (mostly land based turtles) also facing extinction, and they includes:
Known as the “Batague borneoensis,” this species of turtle is found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Brunei. From the period of 1986 to 1996, the painted Terrapin moved from being just ‘vulnerable’ to ‘Critically’ threaten.
The habitat where this species of turtle is found is incredibly limited. Guess where it lives—in a drainage system in Alabama, which is just about 7% of its original and historic habitat. Although there has been a drop in the danger of other habitats, there is no clear-cut method to restore habitat. The greatest threat now is sedimentation and habitat pollution from neighboring open coal mine companies.
This is freshwater turtle species that is found in Southeast Asia. Typical, it is found in woodland areas with high altitude. There is also some variance of subspecies, which you can easily tell by the different coloring in their carapace.
China is the place the McCord Turtle call home.
This turtle species first came to be noticed in 1988 when the Chinese pet trade was in full swing. But it was after 19 years later that the McCord was spotted in the wild and was subsequently reported on. This species is highly sought after due to its medicinal value it offers for Chinese traditional medicine. Also, some turtle hobbyist love to have it as well. These are the reasons why it has become one of the most endangered species of the turtles.
This is another endangered species that is native to the Anhui Province in central China. The Yellow-Headed Box Turtle is known as one of the 25 most endangered species of turtles in the world. Reptiles Magazine estimates there are no more than 150 of the Yellow-headed Box Turtle remaining in the world.
This species comes with a pale stripe over the head and gingko-vertebral scutes on its shell. The first contact humans had with this pond turtle was in 1920, and from that time, it was believed to have gone into extinction. It wasn’t until 2001 when it was rediscovered. The threat facing this species is the illegal pet trade.
The above-mentioned species—particularly the sea based turtles--will soon go down the extinction path of the Dinosaurs, the Mammoth and some few more extinct creatures, in the next few decades. Unless something urgent is done, we will soon end up losing the turtle as a creature of nature. And in case you are wondering what they offer and why they matter, here is why ...
Any moment from now, sea turtles would go into extinction and part of the reason for that is our DIET, believe it or not.
As more and more people consume ready-to-eat foods on a daily basis and end up throwing them away, some of those plastics end up in the ocean, and from there into sea turtles belly. Turtles are just like every other living being and it should matter to you that other important forms of life are disappearing. Why?
The human population cannot succeed without plants and animals. We need them for our clothing, shelter, medicine, and food. Another important aspect of this fact is that an ecosystem that is functioning and is intact helps in purifying the air, filtering and removing substances that are harmful and dangerous to human health. It helps in preventing erosion and flooding, turning decayed properties into nutrients, and in moderating climate effect. Now, imagine if most of the other species are dying off today, how safe and secure would our ecosystem become?
We should care because turtles are part of the species of creatures that are capable of providing an excellent stable ecosystem.
For instance, Green sea turtles are among the few animals that eat sea grass. Just as we have our normal lawn grass, seagrass is required to be constantly trimmed or cut short as a way of making sure it grows across the ocean floor. The activities of sea turtles keep the grass short and healthy—making it a perfect breeding ground for other fishes and a lot of shellfish. They also help in creating a good sea bed.
For the past decades, sea grand beds have declined tremendously. Such decline is linked to the lower number of sea turtles.
Do you see why it matters to look into how to protect and save these endangered turtles?
Sea turtles are also part of the dual ecosystem—the dune/beach and the marine system. If we allow sea turtles to go into extinction, the dune/beach and marine ecosystem would seriously be affected. This means that the egg-laying activities of turtles on the sand and the nutrients they provide for the soil (from un-hatched eggs and dead turtle babies) would be lost. This will then affect the quality of dune vegetation, which would become less strong for lack of nutrients—a good number of which comes from the turtle’s eggs.
Another reason why saving endangered turtles species matters is that, if turtles (like some other creatures) are going into extinction, it signifies that someday, we too are increasingly threatening our own existence as humans. It entails, by conduct, we have fully or partially entered into a human developmental process that is destructive and depleting the resources of our immediate habitat, which in turn exposes us to dangers of unhealthiness and untimely death.
Sea turtles also have profound impact and value on the economy. Some people are fishermen, and they rely on the balance nature of the seabed to catch their fishes. If sea turtles are to go into extinction, the underwater ecosystem would become unbalanced. Fishes would no longer have the perfect ground to breed, and as result would produce less fish, which is bad news for us.
Now, do you see why there should be a change?
There are different ways you can explore to help save these creatures. But at Sandy Ripple, we have created a unique way of how people take part in helping to save sea turtles. So what can you do? It’s simple. When you buy one of our products from our website, a portion of the profits from that purchase will be donated to organizations, groups, and hospitals to help save sea turtles from going into extinction. So, with every purchase of a product like a T-shirt or sweatshirt you are creating and participating in the Ripple Effect of helping to save the sea turtles.
• Allow natural light from the stars and moon at night to encourage hatching.
• Refrain from using artificial light (e.g. flashlights) at beaches at night because it can disorient the turtles. They will confuse artificial light with natural light and be misled away from sea
• Get rid of any trash or debris’s you come across at the beach
• Give sea turtles space, Getting too close can make them uncomfortable
• Participate in habitat restoration
• Report a dead or injured turtle when you see one
• Broadcast the challenges facing sea turtles in the best way you know, and call on people with larger networks to assist. Sharing blog is a good first step!
These are just some simple things you can do to make the difference the sea turtles need.