TFK Kid Reporter Sophia Hou cares about sea turtles. She talked to experts about why these animals are in danger. Learn how you can help.
Sea turtles live all over the world. They live near coasts and in open waters. Six species live in United States waters. All of them are at risk.
I talked to Ashleigh Bandimere. She works for the Oceanic Society. She says fishing is the biggest threat to sea turtles. The turtles get caught in nets. They also get caught in “ghost gear.” That’s fishing gear that has been abandoned.
Climate change is a danger, too. Sea levels are rising. There are more storms. These destroy turtles’ nesting places.
And pollution harms the animals. So does building on coastlines. Vehicles pack down beach sand. This makes it hard for sea turtles to dig nests. Lights from buildings and roads confuse the hatchlings. They follow the lights instead of going to the ocean. “Very few sea turtle hatchlings will make it to adulthood,” Bandimere says. “So each adult turtle is extremely special.”
Many people are trying to help sea turtles. Leigh Henry works at the World Wildlife Fund. The group helps fisheries “switch to more turtle-friendly fishing hooks and nets,” she says. For instance, lights can be put inside of nets. This alerts “sea turtles to their presence,” Henry says. The animals can swim around them.
Can we save the sea turtles? Bandimere says yes. “We know what threats they face,” she says. “And we know what’s needed to eliminate these threats. It’s just a matter of making it happen.”
You Can Help, Too
Here are five ways you can help sea turtles.
Avoid single-use plastic.
Pick up trash on the beach. Dispose of it properly.
Flatten old sand castles. Fill in holes in the sand. That way, female sea turtles can dig their nests. Hatchlings will have a clear path to the water.
Turn off flashlights on the beach during nesting season. They can confuse hatchlings.
Don’t buy souvenirs made of sea turtle shells.