Celebrated this year on June 16, World Sea Turtle Day isn’t just about fawning over turtle hatchlings making their successful and too adorable crawls to sea. This day offers the world the opportunity to learn more about why humans have been captivated by these creatures since ancient times.
Practically all sea turtle species have been classified as endangered and suffer from dangers of being slaughtered for their shells, skin and meat. Once, we exalted sea turtles as ancient creatures. They’ve been on this planet for over 100 million years, outliving the dinosaurs.
Some turtles only weigh 80 pounds, but others weigh in at over 1,000 pounds. They reside in oceans around the world, touching human hearts and history. Here’s a round-up of how the world has protected sea turtles on World Sea Turtle Day:
SeaWorld Orlando: Twelfth Sea Turtle Returned in 2017
After giving care around the clock for four months, Sea World released one loggerhead sea turtle weighing in at 230 pounds into the ocean successfully. Originally discovered near Fort Pierce with a damaged shell, injured front flipper and a sand-dollar blocked stomach, this loggerhead weighed only 218 pounds.
The loggerhead became the twelfth rehabilitated turtle this year. SeaWorld teams are available 24/7 to rehabilitate injured marine animals. If you spot one, call the FWC hotline at 888-404-3922.
The Florida Aquarium: Eight Sea Turtles Returned on World Oceans Day
Sea turtles cannot regulate their body temperatures since they’re cold blooded. Sometimes they suffer from cold-stunning, washing ashore immobilized and hypothermic.
When eight Kemp’s ridley sea turtles arrived at Tampa in this condition, the Florida Aquarium nurtured the turtles back to health for five months, giving them antibiotics to help with pneumonia. They also suffered from shell and skin damage that resembles human frostbite. After eating a well-balanced diet and successfully swimming around, World Oceans Day presented the perfect time for the aquarium to release these turtles.
Jumeirah: Releases 40 Sea Turtles into the Arabian Gulf
In collaboration with the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall, the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) successfully released 40 rehabilitated sea turtles into the Arabian Gulf on World Sea Turtle Day.
The underwater zoo had hosted five turtles during their rehabilitation over the last three years, including four juvenile hawksbills with one juvenile green turtle called Jane, who is also an amputee. The turtles participated in an exhibition during rehabilitation to educate visitors on their plight. Since released, visitors may follow the sea turtles on Facebook to track their journey.
The WWF Means Business on World Sea Turtle Day
On World Sea Turtle Day, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) means business: it’s globally calling EU governments to action to protect sea turtles by “requiring that all tropical shrimp trawlers exporting into the EU implement TEDS.” This would eliminate the primary threat against sea turtles worldwide, allowing turtles to continue protecting coral reefs and seagrass health.
According to the WWF, every year tens of thousands of sea turtles die as a result of shrimp trawling. The use of TEDs (Turtle Excluder Devices) would prevent this issue. It would help turtles worldwide, especially as India is one of the major shrimp exporters. The US and EU markets purchase 40 percent of wild-caught shrimp.
WWF called upon all actors, from national governments to shrimp fisheries, to demonstrate their commitment to this need.
Bycatching, when turtles get caught accidentally and entangled in fishing gear, also presents risks for sea turtles. When coastal development occurs, people rarely consider sea turtles. This puts these ancient creatures at risk of losing feeding and nesting sites. Though they may live at sea for years, sea turtles still need air to nest and come to land.
Sea turtles typically are solitary creatures and only come together to seek a mate, which occurs from May to October. Only a small number of female turtles reach sexual maturity, laying eggs once every three years. Only a small percentage of these hatchlings reach the ocean.
Sea turtles continue to captivate humans but should not live in captivity. We should strive to protect our sea turtles every day.