Sea Turtles Need a Fighting Chance

Ocean First   Jul 06, 2022

What’s a tropical dive without spotting at least one turtle floating around the reef? No matter how many times we see turtles on our dives, the sight of them always gives us pause as we are reminded that we are in their yard, not the other way around.

While nearly all species of sea turtles are classified as Endangered, there’s hope: according to a new report that analyzed the effects of the USA’s Endangered Species Act (ESA), median sea turtle populations have soared by 980% following regulations established by the ESA. The same study shows the median increase for marine mammals was 115% within the same 20-year time frame.

Sea turtles have been under threat due to habitat loss, climate change, bycatch, overharvesting for consumption, and illegal poaching (source: WWF). The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was designed to protect “critically imperiled species from extinction” by offering protections to species and the ecosystems on which they depend (source: Wikipedia).

“When an animal receives protection under this act, its habitat is shielded from most human activities and rehabilitation measures are often taken. For example, if a turtle receives protection, then fishing, tourism, waste disposal, and other activities could be prohibited from a certain area, and conservationists may work to restore the turtles’ sources of food.” (source: Global Citizen)

As outlined in the January 2019 study, species that have a designated critical habitat, sufficient conservation funding, and well-implemented rehabilitation plans tend to recover faster. On the flip side, species who were not granted adequate protection plans had significantly impeded rebound rates.

To summarize the study, if we want to save species from extinction, we need to give them a fighting chance!

As a newly minted Dive Shop for Turtles, we are committed to spreading the word about the plight of our favorite friendly dive companion. Proper protection goes beyond volunteering at a sea turtle hatchery (which we still recommend!). In addition to being turtle-friendly divers (learn how), we need to support the regulations in place that have shown huge successes in saving species from extinction by protecting the ESA at a time when its future is uncertain