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Sea Turtle

Seven different species of sea (or marine) turtles grace our ocean waters, from the shallow seagrass beds of the Indian Ocean, to the colorful reefs of the Coral Triangle, and even the sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific. WWF’s work on sea turtles focuses on five of those species: green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback and olive ridley.

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.

WWF is committed to stop the decline of sea turtles and work for the recovery of the species. We work to secure environments in which both turtles—and the people that depend upon them—can survive into the future.

Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They help maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years. Turtles have major cultural significance and tourism value.

Sea turtles journey between land and sea and swim thousands of ocean miles during their long lifetimes, exposing them to countless threats. They wait decades until they can reproduce, returning to the same beaches where they were born to lay their eggs, few of which will yield hatchlings that survive their first year of life. Beyond these significant natural challenges, sea turtles face multiple threats caused by humans.

Sea turtles continue to be harvested unsustainably both for human consumption and trade of their parts. Turtle meat and eggs are a source of food and income for many people around the world. Some also kill turtles for medicine and religious ceremonies. Tens of thousands of sea turtles are lost this way every year, devastating populations of already endangered greens and hawksbills.

Killing of turtles for both domestic and international markets continues as well. While international trade in all sea turtle species and their parts is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), illegal trafficking persists.

Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks and in fishing gillnets every year. They become fisheries bycatch–unintended catch of non-target species.

Sea turtles need to reach the surface to breathe and therefore many drown once caught. Incidental capture by fishing gear is the greatest threat to most sea turtles, especially endangered loggerheads, greens and leatherbacks. This threat is increasing as fishing activity expands.

Taken from http://worldwildlife.org/species/sea-turtle

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