Sea Turtle

Did you know that all species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered?  All.  Species. One of the most significant threats to sea turtles come from imprecise fishing methods.  According to a report published last Tuesday, millions of sea turtles have become the victims of the world’s fisheries.  Millions.

The study is the first of its kind, a global survey of sea turtle bycatch, and was conducted by Conservation International and Duke University in the US.  In it researchers suggest that the Mediterranean and the Eastern Pacific are locations where the marine turtle populations are in danger of collapse.  The report goes on to say that the increase in fishing gear (longlines, gillnets) is directly linked to the increase in accidental capture of sea turtles.

For those who may not know, bycatch is when you catch unintended marine life in with the fish you are trying to catch.  And, Sea Turtles aren’t the only species affected by bycatch either- sharks, dolphins, porpoises, whales, and albatrosses all suffer and perish at astonishingly high rates as well.

Dr. Bryan Wallace, Science Advisor for Conservation International’s Sea Turtle Flagship Program believes that bycatch is the most serious threat to sea turtle populations around the globe.

Why should you care, right?  I mean, how many of us have actually seen a sea turtle?  Well, sea turtles play an important role in two ecosystem types that are critical to themselves and humans- oceans and beaches/dunes.  I like oceans and beaches, that means I must like the sea turtles!  The sea turtles are one of the very few species of animal that eat the sea grass that grows on the sea floor.  (an underground law mower – that’s great!)  The sea grass must be kept short to stay healthy, which is essential in breeding (and development) areas for lots of different fish and marine life.  Without our underground lawn mowers, the populations of these animals will decline and/or die.  Which, for those who paid attention in biology, can negatively impact human life.  We are, after all,  connected.

Beaches and dunes are fragile ecosystems.  They depend on vegetation to protect them against erosion.  Eggs from sea turtles, hatched or unhatched, (and, aw, baby turtles that die on the journey to the ocean) are sources of nutrients for the vegetation.  Without the vegetation, there would be no beaches and dunes- they’d be blown right away.  Wind + Sand = Vanishing Sand.

Dr. Wallace explains why sea turtles are important saying:

Sea turtles are sentinel species of how oceans are functioning. The impacts that human activities have on them give us an idea as to how those same activities are affecting the oceans on which billions of people around the world depend for their own well-being.

See?  Like I said, we are all connected.  Wallace goes on to say:

Our hope is that this study gives governments and fisheries alike the impetus for bolstering on-going efforts to reduce sea turtle bycatch and to promote more sustainable fishing practices as soon as possible.

Part of the problem is that the researchers only hope this report will influence industries to bolster their efforts to reduce killing.  Why is it acceptable in any way, knowing what a large problem this is, to advocate for a reduction in killing?  The whole thing is absurd.  These researchers did research to find out how many other animals we are killing (bycatch) by killing animals (fishing)!

I could have saved Duke University and Conservation International a ton of loot and time.  Since humans do not need marine life to sustain their own lives, it’s unnecessary to continue to fish our oceans.  Stop the killing and go vegan.  That should solve the problem.