If you’re lucky, as we were, you might catch sight of sea turtles should you find yourself cruising the western Mediterranean. But did you know that six out of the seven species of sea turtle on the planet now are in some way under threat? Furthermore – were you aware that it’s mostly our fault?
Bryan Vorbach, associate veterinarian at South Carolina Aquarium has written a very thought-provoking article on sea turtles. Thought-provoking because alarming; as it turns out, the species that are vulnerable to extinction, endangered or critically endangered are largely in this position due to human behaviour. We don’t make a habit of eating these creatures any more, says Mr Vorbach, but boats, pollution, egg poaching and climate change – to name just a few – are very real human threats.
Mr Vorbach advises four simple ways in which boaters can help protect sea turtles, wherever they might be.
First (and maybe a no-brainer, but who knows), watch your speed and stick to the limits and designated boating areas where sea turtles might be present. A spinning prop can cause an awful lot of damage.
Second, dispose of rubbish thoughtfully. We all know the menace of plastic threatening our seas and oceans – and empty water bottles are certainly not in a sea turtle’s natural diet.
Third, don’t free a sea turtle if you catch one accidentally while fishing. There are sea turtle rehabilitation organisations which can try to help you release the animal safely.
And, finally, get in touch with the experts if you happen across an injured sea turtle (try here for starters).
Read Mr Vorbach’s article in full on Sailors for the Sea.
Read all of our Environment entries here.