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Biology
  

Saving The Sea Turtles

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Sea turtles are one of the earth's oldest creatures. For millions of years they’ve thrived, but now they’re facing extinction. We tracked the turtles and found out it’s not too late to save them.

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As the sun begins to rise, marine conservationist, Dr. Kirt Rusenko begins his mission. He’s combing the beach for sea turtle nests.

“We are encouraged to do as little as possible, just mark it and let nature take its course,” Kirt Rusenko, Ph.D., marine conservationist told Ivanhoe.

Nature has been taking its course for more than 150 million years. One of the largest reptiles in the world is the leatherback turtle. It can dig a nest for some 60 to 80 eggs.

“They don’t have as many eggs as the other turtles, but we’re talking a turtle that can grow to be 2000 pounds,” Dr. Rusenko said.

Sea turtle specialist, Rick Newman, stood behind the endangered species.

“We protect them from predators and we check them every single day and just monitor how the populations are doing. How many sea turtles are coming in and how many babies are coming off our beaches,” Rick Newman, sea turtle specialist, at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, told Ivanhoe.

Plus, how many are male and female? That’s determined by the temperature of the sand. Researchers are looking at how climate change could affect the population. The hotter the sand, the more likely the turtle will be female. Chances for survival are slim. Only one in 1,000 live to adulthood.

“Those turtles are the lucky ones that made it through all the raccoon predators on the beach and then swam out past all the hungry fish,” Newman explained.

While they’ve outlived some of the greatest disasters the world has ever known, this ancient reptile is no match for man. All seven sea turtle species are either threatened or endangered.

“Humans are really a lot more destructive than any asteroid, meteor or whatever that hits the earth apparently,” Dr. Rusenko added.

Back at the Gumbo Limbo Rehabilitation Center, sick turtles are treated for a pollution-related disease called fibropapilloma.

“These turtles came in in such bad shape that it took a month, possibly two just to get them healthy enough to do surgery on them,” Dr. Rusenko said.

The disease causes tumors. It’s caused when communities dump partially treated sewage into the waterways.

“Turtles are already kind of telling us whoa, we got enough,” Dr. Rusenko said.

Another problem? Fisheries.

“We think long line fisheries may capture close to 100,000 loggerheads a year,” Dr. Rusenko added.

So what can you do? Know what you’re eating. Pick up a seafood card from a website like Monterrey Bay Aquarium.

“The seafood cards will tell you which fish are environmentally sustainable and were caught in a friendly manner, where they’re not destructive to other species,” Dr. Rusenko said.

Keep dangerous levels of mercury out of the ocean by using less electricity. The largest source of human derived mercury comes from coal-fired power plants.

Keep dangerous levels of mercury out of the ocean by using less electricity. The largest source of human derived mercury comes from coal-fired power plants.

Finally, reduce the amount of chemicals you use on your lawn and in your home. They can end up in the waterways. These are simple steps you can take to save the sea turtle. Sea turtles can also become entangled in plastic bags and trash found on the shore and in the water. They often get sick when they try to eat clear plastic confusing it for jellyfish and sea sponges. Experts say cutting down on your plastic consumption could also help these creatures.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Rocio Johnson
Public Relations Coordinator
Sea Turtle Conservancy
(352) 373-6441
rocio@conserveturtles.org


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Sea turtles are one of the earth's oldest creatures. For millions of years they’ve thrived, but now they’re facing extinction. We track the turtles and ways to save them.

 

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Prior Reports
A joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics.
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