150 million years is a long existence, to say the least. It is the sea turtle that owns that distinction, yet they are being threatened more and more every day. When one problem is solved, another issue seems to hit the news immediately.
Sea turtles have seen their share of damage. From poachers to oil to coral reefs being destroyed to the waste thrown on the beaches of this country that have killed and maimed these creatures – everything seems to be against the sea turtle when it comes to them extending that 150 million year existence. This is the creature that lived before the dinosaurs were even known to be present, and
there are now seven species of sea turtles left (Green, Kemp’s ridley, Olive ridley, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Flatback and Loggerhead.) However, in 2013, all seven species are critically threatened – with the worst being the Leatherback, whose presence has declined 95% over just the last twenty-five years.
But, there is good! There are a myriad of issues that various humans have been campaigning to stop, and their list of tasks are long: large-scale poaching of adult turtles and turtle eggs; drowning in shrimp nets and being dragged by longline hooks set out by tuna and swordfish anglers and industries; development and destruction of nesting beaches; pollution and plastic debris in the ocean; climate change causing rising sea levels that impact nesting beaches; warming ocean temperatures that negatively impact the food resources for the creatures – this is literally a situation where: “you cut off the head of one demon and another grows back in its place.”
The organizations and associations, out there, as well as personal individuals, are working desperately to change the future for the sea turtles. And…their work has not been for nothing. Changes have been made and battles have been won; however, the work is not done. Scientists have predicted that the stunning giant of the species – the Pacific leatherback sea turtle – could very well be erased in the next 5 to 30 years if the current threat of wasteful industrial fishing is not stopped.
But everyone – everyone – especially in this time of constant ‘bad’ hitting the news need to understand that there are victories. There are true hero’s out there who have made a difference. Down in Australia, various gas projects were halted because the people stood together and made sure that the ancients of the deep would not have to put up with more oil, gas, natural gas pipelines, the destruction of the landscape and coral reefs, that happen because of these various industrial projects. Chevron (California-based) pulled out of the gas project just a year ago – and the battle for the one project was won.
The Turtle Island Restoration Network – its members and supporters – banned together to pressure top decision-makers in Australia to halt the project because of the extreme harm that would come to sea turtles, as well as other marine life, and the lands that are held sacred by the traditional landowners in the Aboriginal community.
Sea Turtles 911 is yet another organization that is working hard in China, where an extreme amount of illegal sea turtle harvesting is occurring. This organization has rescued turtles directly from poachers, markets and restaurants. Among the illnesses that the rescued turtles had were malnourishment, dehydration, and fungal infections – but this organization admitted these poor creatures into the floating sea turtle hospital set up for emergency medical care. They have offered rehabilitation to the sea turtles in order for them to be released back into the wild.
WorkTravelSA is yet another organization that is working in South Africa trying to save the sea turtle. They have researched the long and complex lives of these creatures that live for great lengths of time at sea before returning to the original beach they hatched from to nest. These intelligent creatures have long memories, and during their nesting periods both turtle and nest become open to natural and human threats. Beach erosion, flooding tides and attacks from natural predators, such as: honey badgers, bush pigs, ants, wild cats, crabs, etc.) occur; add to that the random egg harvesting and trampling of the nests by people and you have a huge situation. But every issue is being watched over and solved by this organization.
It is the coastline of northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and southern Mozambique where the leatherback turtles nest and loggerheads breed – the only location in the Indian Ocean that can be monitored and maintained in order to help them that organizations are concentrating on. Small, yet extremely ecologically important, this is one area where groups are working tediously to extend that 150 million years no matter what!
This is shout out – this is a pat on the back – and this is a fact that must be remembered by one and all. As the ‘bad’ continues to hit the press and become media headlines, it must be remembered that the ‘good’ – the heroes are out there – fighting for everything from the sea turtle to the human.
Stand together, believe, and ‘good’ will always triumph!
Source: Baret News Wire / The Green Register