Label: Sea Turtles

April 2, 2012

In today’s Science News, we have this photograph of baby turtles making their way into the ocean after their release during a campaign to save sea turtles in Aceh Besar, Indonesia. Hatching baby turtles have always been in danger from predators who snatch them while they are heading for the safety of the water, but now they are facing extinction due to the action of the most powerful predator of all - human poachers who kill them for their meat, fat, shells and eggs. 

Now, conservationists are educating the public about the importance of helping these baby turtles to make it to the safety of the water. They hope that with knowledge and the support from the public, sea turtles will eventually be able to come off the endangered list.


Photo: Heri Juanda / AP

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

(30) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Conservation, Earth Day 2012, Sea Turtles   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 4, 2011


Sea turtles are the last of our world’s ancient reptiles, and have been swimming the seas for more than 200 million years, since back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. But in just the last few decades, hunting, coastal development, fishing and pollution have reduced their populations to dangerously low levels, to the point that sea turtles are now endangered. That is why many of us, including our young environmental reporter Alana G., were very worried about the fate of the sea turtles when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened in the Gulf last year.

The very good news is that the rescue efforts were quite successful. NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration), the Gulf states, many nonprofit partners and the Gulf fishermen teamed up to rescue more than 400 sea turtles from oiled waters and take them to aquariums and other facilities for de-oiling and rehabilitation. Marine biologists even moved more than 25,000 sea turtle eggs to Florida’s Atlantic coast, so that the hatchlings would make their way from their sandy nests to clean water. More than 96 percent of the 400 sea turtles brought into rehabilitation have survived, and most of them have already been returned to the wild. This is great news!

Unfortunately, scientists also learned something disturbing from the Gulf oil spill. Most of the dead turtles that turned up on the beaches did not have oil on their bodies and necropsies (that is what you call the autopsy of an animal) showed that they were in good health prior to their death. It appears that the majority of these 600 turtles died from drowning, after being trapped in fishing gear.

So now a new effort begins, to make fishing equipment more "turtle proof" in the Gulf, where five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles live. In order to protect this species and get them off the endangered list, NOAA is considering establishing a rule requiring fishermen to use TEDs (Turtle Excluder Devices). These escape hatches allow sea turtles to swim out of the shrimp skimmers so they don’t drown. As NOAA and the states continue to assess the natural resources damaged by the spill, we are gaining a much clearer picture of what we need to do long-term to protect these glorious, ancient creatures. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Oceans, Oil Spills, Sea Turtles   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 1, 2010

A fourth-grader wrote asking what she can do about the Gulf oil spill.

My name is Alana and I am a 4th grade student. We are currently reading the story you wrote "Wildfires." I think it is a great story. It helped us understand the positive effects that controlled wildfires can have.Although I greatly enjoyed the story,  unfortunately that is not the main reason I am writing to you today. I just read your posting on the Gulf Oil Spill. My mom and I have been following the updates. It breaks my heart that this has happened. The sea turtles are one of my very favorite animals on the planet, but I love all marine life. I was even looking into becoming a Marine Biologist when I grow up. I love science and enjoy working with animals.  I can’t believe what is going to happen the Gulf’s ecosystem. I know that I am very far away and that I am only 9 years old (almost 10) smile but do you have any suggestions of what I can do to help the situation? It makes me so angry but also sad that this has happened and the only thing that will help me feel a little better is to know that I am doing whatever I can to help save the animals that are still left. Do you think that the sea turtles will survive this disaster? So many have already died. : (  I know you are very busy. Thank you for taking the time to read posting.

Alana G.
"Science Rules" 

Alana, thank you so much for writing and for caring so much about the sea turtles. Like you, I have always considered sea turtles to be one of my favorite animals on our planet. They travel long distances during their lives and return to the same place they were born, where the females lay their eggs for a new generation of turtles. It is so sad that the turtles are being killed by the terrible oil spill in the Gulf. The turtles are only one of the many animals that are being affected and no one seems to know how to put a quick stop to the oil pouring out into the sea. I wish I could tell you what to do to help the situation. More than that I wish I could tell you that someone knows what to do. It seems as if the oil spill will continue for weeks and months and I just hope that the company that caused the spill and the goverrnment can control it by the end of the summer. Perhaps the best thing you and everyone else can do is to try to make sure that it never happens again. There are many conservation groups, such as The Nature Conservancy and The Natural Resources Defense Council that are working to make oil drilling safer in a variety of ways.

The peoples of this country and of other countries all share the same planet. The more people who feel the way you and I do about this terrible situation, the more likely it is that the countries of the world will put rules in place to prevent it from ever happening again.Think environmentally all your life, no matter what you decide to do as an adult. Talk about it to your friends. Read about it in books and on the web. Remain committed to the idea that...

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Environment, Oil Spills, Sea Turtles   •  Permalink (link to this article)