Sea turtles prove valuable, save them

Imagine a world where the ocean is toxic, where all the sea grass has died and brought marine life down with it. Animals along the almost non-existent beaches are starving. This is a world without the indispensable sea turtles species.

For well over 100 million years, fewer and fewer sea turtles have been swimming through the oceans because of one factor. Humans. Not only are we destroying the planet, but also the creatures who are key to its existence, also known as keystone species. The fact that only seven species of sea turtles remain is absolutely baffling. There are Kemp’s Ridleys, Olive Ridleys, Flatbacks, Hawksbills, Green Sea turtles, Leatherbacks, and Loggerheads, the rest are sadly dead. People need to pay more attention to these animals.

If sea turtles were to completely die off, it would not only affect marine life but human life just as much. Sea turtles maintain species diversity and the natural balance of fragile marine ecosystems. If sea turtles go extinct, it will cause declines in all the species whose survival depends on healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs.

Seagrass beds are important because they provide breeding grounds for many species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Without them, those species would go extinct as well. Oxygen levels in the ocean would also decrease, affecting all of the oceans and the air that we breathe.

Sea turtles also provide the main nutrients for beach ecosystems. Unhatched nests, eggs, and trapped hatchlings are very good sources of nutrients for the beach plants. Even the leftover egg shells from hatched eggs provide nutrients. The plants use the nutrients from turtle eggs to grow and as they do, the health of the entire ecosystem becomes better.

Healthy vegetation and strong root systems hold the sand in place and protect the beach from erosion; although if sea turtles went extinct, dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and would not be able to prevent beaches from washing away according to

People need to realize the harm we are causing these sea creatures and do what we can to help them. Pretty simple solutions: pick up your trash at the beach, or don’t throw trash into the ocean. Be cautious when boating, so you don’t hit them, and be aware of sea turtle nests. Even just turning out lights at night if you live by the beach can save hundreds of hatchlings.

This is the sea turtle hospital at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Rowdy is a Kemps Ridley turtle that was injured by a boat propeller.