Kathryn Brooks
© Kathryn Brooks

Sea Turtles

Threats

About 1 in 1,000 baby sea turtles will make it to adulthood. They are a source of food for crabs, birds, and other marine animals. However, the biggest threats to sea turtles by far are human related. Oil spills, habitat loss due to development, and entanglement in marine debris such as plastic bags are threats that face many marine animals, but others specifically affect turtles.

For example, when sea turtle eggs are incubating, the surrounding temperature affects the sex of the hatchlings, with higher temperatures producing more females. As sand becomes warmer due to climate change, the ratio of females to males becomes out of balance, affecting breeding activities when they reach adulthood. Also, the artificial lighting coming from beachside communities confuses turtles who normally follow the moon and stars’ reflection off the waves to make it back to water, making them more vulnerable to predators, dehydration and roadkill. In some countries, turtle shells are traded on the black market and turtles and their eggs are harvested for food.