What’s going on?
Out of the five species of sea turtles found in Florida, four of them are endangered and one is threatened. These gentile reptiles face numerous threats from humans. Hatchlings making their way to sea are often confused by artificial lights and lured to their death.
Turtles of all ages may die from consuming small plastic and trash, and some drown after being caught in discarded fishing nets. Although it is illegal to harm or harass any sea turtle, many are still hunted for their meat and shells.
Why it matters.
Florida beaches and oceans simply wouldn’t be the same without them. Eggshells and unhatched eggs help provide nutrients for coastal vegetation. Hawksbill turtles eat sea sponges, helping prevent their overgrowth on coral reefs. Leatherbacks do a similar service by eating jellyfish and keeping their populations in check. Sea turtles also provide habitat for numerous tiny aquatic hitchhikers like barnacles, algae, and small crustaceans. Losing Florida sea turtles would have an enormous negative impact on coastal communities.
What you can do.
- Organize or join in on a beach clean-up day.
- Buy a sea turtle license plate, which provides funds to the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
- Do not feed sea turtles or other wildlife.
- Reduce your use of plastic.
- Reduce your use of fertilizers.
- Reach out to your representatives and express your thoughts about protecting marine life.
Info from the FWC.