Sea Turtles garden the ocean, every species playing a unique role in nurturing it. Green turtles eat sea grass which, like lawn grass, needs to be regularly cut short to remain healthy and grow across the sea floor. Ocean grass beds serve as breeding grounds for the smaller fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, the lower levels of the marine food chain, without which the larger species that humans reap could perish. Green turtles plough our marine fields – the FARMERS.
Hawksbills, with jaws shaped like a hawk’s beak, can eat sponges off sea corals helping them grow. Corals are marine hotspots, their health is crucial to several marine species that flourish in these biomes – the CLEANERS.
Leatherbacks, the underwater giants, are avid jelly eaters and help maintain an ecological balance. When marine ecosystems become disturbed, jellyfish reproduce rapidly and can proliferate very fast. They predate on many species, while few species predate them; and they feed via touch rather than visually, so unlike most marine species, they can effectively feed at night and in turbid waters. Jellyfish feed on fish eggs and larvae, making it difficult for fish stocks to re-establish themselves in marine ecosystems once they have become dominated by jellyfish. Leatherbacks are our marine STABILIZERS.
Thus, Sea Turtles are our marine MANAGERS, keeping our oceans healthy – necessary for human survival – not just for economic and nourishment needs, but because oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing the impact of climate change, and generating 50% of the oxygen we breathe, YES – 50%! Try taking half breath for a while and you’d realize how important.
So conservation of Sea Turtles, helps us breathe and eat. Need more reason to conserve them? They’re damn beautiful, and as they say, beauty is joy forever!
India, with a coastline of 8,000 kms has nesting sites for a variety of Sea Turtle species, 5 to be precise – the Olive Ridley, Greens, Hawksbills, Loggerheads, and Leatherbacks. Odisha on our Eastern coast, experiences mass nesting of the Olive Ridley turtles during October to April, supporting a nesting population of over 500,000 Olive Ridleys, making this one of the largest nesting sites for this species globally. Boast about it to your firang buddies next time!
(Image: Map of key nesting sites along the Indian coast)
Sadly though, there are several threats to marine turtles in India. Major threats include unplanned beach development (including ports, tourism, and plantations), by-catch mortality (in trawl nets and gill nets), weak enforcement of Fisheries and Protected Area regulations and, to a limited extent, killing of turtles for meat and the poaching of eggs.
They gift us life, will we honor them with extinction?
ONEFORBLUE says “Love for Love”
Join OneForBlue and share your love of the wild with us. Meanwhile, stay tuned as we fill you in on the Conservation efforts underway to revive Sea Turtles.