We, as human beings, impose true suffering on the other species that inhabit our planet, and we’re well aware of that. Over-exploitation, climate change, habitat destruction, and the introduction of invasive species have all contributed to a ‘sixth mass extinction’, and it is down to all of us!
But what if we could UNDO some of this damage, and help some of those endangered species to recover? We know it’s a huge ask, but the story of the sea turtles gives us some optimism.
Sea turtles have roamed the oceans for more than 100 million years, but they have had it really tough since us, humans, started invading their habitat. Even when they do not end up ‘caught and eaten’ by people looking for an ‘easy catch’, we have ruined their nesting sites by development and pollution along beaches, and they have been accidentally caught in the countless nets and hooks used by fisheries.
A recent study of 299 nesting sites in diverse locations all around the world has shown, however, that there’s a significant increase in sea turtle nests, indicating that these magnificent creatures may be making a remarkable comeback from the edge of extinction. It’s wonderful news, especially as the research team has credited the conservation efforts as the cause for this turnaround.
These amazing creatures were recognized as vulnerable back in the 1970’s, and there are laws in the USA and Mexico in order to protect them. Conservation efforts have stepped up since then, and WWF is leading the way by introducing fish hooks that are unlikely to be swallowed by sea turtles, and nets that allow turtles to safely escape. Turtle ‘bycatch’ deaths have been reduced by up to 90% by these measures.
Other protection methods include darkening beaches and mass clean ups of coastal habitats.
The cleaning of Versova beach in the Indian city of Mumbai is the best example of a major beach cleanup. This beach has been transformed into a beautiful coastline where turtles can safely nest, and it’s all thanks to the dedicated and hard-working volunteers.
Afroz Shah, the lawyer, and environmentalist who lead the effort was not content with what the UN called the “world’s largest beach cleanup project” (they removed over 5 million kilograms of plastic), and guarded the first turtle hatchlings personally in order to make their way into the sea from Versova beach in many decades.
“I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean,” – he says.
Despite these positive initiatives, the sea turtles are far from ‘safe’, as 300 turtles were found dead off the coast of Mexico just this week. While conservation efforts have started to bear fruit, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that these ancient, magnificent creatures don’t disappear from our oceans forever.
Scroll down below for more information and the amazing photos of the Versova beach cleaning project.
When they don’t end up being caught by people and eaten, they end up tangled in fishing nets.
Climate change, pollution, and development along beaches have destroyed their habitats, and there were more than 300 sea turtles found dead on the coastline of Mexico just last week.
Things are slowly starting to change, however. There has been a significant increase in sea turtle nests in the recent years, and citizen initiatives like the one in Versova beach in Mumbai, India, are cleaning up beaches in order to make them suitable for nesting again.
The beach has been successfully transformed into a beautiful coastline where turtles can safely nest!