The Danger In The Sea: Negative Human Impacts On Marine Turtles

1593 words - 6 pages

Turtles have been around for about 230 million years (Dobbs 1). In that time, they have seen the rise and fall of the dinosaurs and the rise of mankind. Marine turtles have been around for about 65 million years (Dobbs 1). This family has withstood the test of time and is being threatened by human’s impact on the sea. All six of the marine turtles occurring on the shores of America are at least threatened. Marine turtles are very important to the ecosystem but humans are endangering this family directly and indirectly; if humans do not stop their destructive habits, we may lose the influence of marine turtles on the earth’s seas.
Marine turtles play an important role in the ocean's ecology and without turtles we may see an ecological collapse in the oceans. The marine turtles are one of the few animals in the sea that eat sea grass (Godfrey). Marine turtles act as grazing animals that cut the grass short and help maintain the health of the sea grass beds (Godfrey). Over the past decades, there has been a decline in sea grass beds. This decline may be linked to the lower numbers of Marine turtles (Godfrey). Sea grass is important because it is a breeding ground for many species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans (Godfrey). Beaches and sand dunes are known to not have alot of nutrients. When Marine turtles come to land they well bury their eggs in the sand of the beaches. Not every nest will hatch, not every egg in a nest will hatch, and not all of the hatchlings in a nest will make it out of the nest (Godfrey). All the dead hatchlings make a good source of nutrients for the beaches; the shells of the hatchlings make a good source as well (Godfrey). If marine turtles were to go extinct, then the beaches and sand dunes will lose alot of nutrients.
Many cultures have depictions of marine turtles. Ancient Chinese writings described marine turtle as being exotic delicacies (Musick 5). Ancient Romans and ancient Greeks used turtle scutes for combs and brushes used mainly by the Upper class (Musick 5). "The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped the sea and its animals. On many occasions marine turtles were depicted" (Shore).
Marine turtle's habitats are always being altered. Either they are lost for human recreation or altered by human structures. Turtles are affected by these habitat alterations in a variety of negative ways. Beach armoring is hardened structures that are built to protect sand dune properties (Musick 389). Beach armoring, if ridged enough, are detrimental to the nesting turtle's ability to go to the nesting sites (Musick 389). This can make the nesting turtle decide not to nest that particular year. The biggest threat of beach armoring is the nesting area loss (Musick 389).
Beach nourishment is another way the marine turtle's habitat is altered. Beach nourishment is where humans dump or pump sand onto eroded beaches (Musick 389). This usually only happens on more developed beaches. Beach nourishment is better than beach...

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