The last human activity cause of sea turtle endangerment is pollution of the ocean. “The ocean is the final stop for much of the garbage generated on land” (Wroble, Kähler). Sea turtles are vulnerable to ocean pollution at all stages of life, from eggs to hatchlings to juveniles to adults. Pollutants can include things like toxic metals, petroleum products, and things such as fertilizers, chemicals, and untreated waste. They can cause immediate harm to the turtles through direct contacts, or can build up in tissues over time. Scientists believe that plastic bags actually smell like food to sea turtles because of the bacteria and algae that grows on them. According to CNN Wire, until now, there were just theories that sea turtles may have accidentally gotten entangled in the plastic. Turtles also will mistake garbage in the ocean for prey, taking in plastics and other materials that cause digestive failure. Sea turtles can also be affected by ingesting food that is contaminated by oil or tar balls. A large percentage of dead hatchlings whose stomach contents have been examined have ingested tar balls, which form when crude oil floating in the water degrades. Also, polluted waters, particularly oceans with low water turnover, can cause the growth of potentially lethal fibropapilloma tumors on the eyes, skin, and internal organs of the sea turtles (Shattuck, Foran). External tumors can create drag and slow turtles down, making them more vulnerable to predation and collisions with boats. Tumors around the eyes can mess up the vision of the turtles and can cause blindness to them. Tumors around the mouth can impair breathing and feeding. Pollution can also cause other diseases in sea turtles, such as parasites. Flatworms are frequently found in sea turtles in the stomach and bladder of the turtle. They can also get external parasites from pollution. Aside from the turtles themselves, pollution can also pose a threat to sea turtle habitats. Oil from spills offshore washes up on beaches where it can harm nesting habitats and can impact nests.
Sea turtles are much more than just another animal living in the ocean. They are important and have purposes that many people fail to see. They are part of cultures, are a keystone species, help control their prey in the environment that they live in, give nutrients to beach coasts, and are relied on for jobs and income. The three major causes of sea turtles being in danger of going extinct are global warming, predation of other animals, and human activity. But there are many things that can be done to help protect the sea turtles. One can avoid nesting sites by becoming aware of where the nesting sites are that way they do become more prone to being walked all over. An individual can also help by cleaning up the beach. Trash we leave on the beach often ends up in the ocean.
Although it may not seem like picking up one small piece of garbage will do anything, it can make a huge difference to the turtles. So make a difference and pick up trash that can be destructive to a sea turtle. One can also help by doing things such as filling in beach holes to avoid any sort of beach obstacles for the turtles, remove beach furniture and umbrellas that can keep baby sea turtles from making their way to the ocean, do not construct beach fires during hatching season, as sea turtles are known for being attracted to light which in some cases a sea turtle could crawl into the fire, leave turtle tracks untouched, be alert when boating and/fishing, and reduce one’s carbon footprint. Sea turtles are in so much danger but there is so much we can do to help them and get them off of the endangered species list. Humans would not like it if their environment was compromised and if they were in danger with their lives on the line, so why do it to the turtles when the littlest steps can be taken in order to help? Make a difference. Save the turtles.
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