Help Protect Sea Turtles!
Six of seven species of sea turtles around the world are endangered or threatened but there are many ways that anyone can help! Here are a few ways you can support conservation of wild sea turtles around the world:
1. Don’t buy souvenirs or other items made from critically endangered hawksbill shell. The tortoiseshell trade is the biggest threat to hawksbills. When traveling, ask vendors what souvenirs are made of and when in doubt, don’t purchase items in question. See our How To Identify & Avoid Hawksbill Turtleshell guide to learn how to recognize turtleshell and other similar looking materials.
2. Reduce your carbon footprint! Climate change affects the health of coral reefs which are vital to the hawksbills survival. A warming planet also skews sex ratios in baby turtles, changes the abundance and distribution of prey, increases erosion of nesting beaches, and more. Learn some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint here.
3. Choose responsibly caught seafood. Sea turtles are vulnerable to commercial fishing methods like trawling, longlines, and drift gillnets, becoming unwanted catch (also known as "bycatch") that is discarded like trash. To help make turtle friendly seafood choices check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch which is also available as a handy app for your phone!
4. Just say NO to plastics! Sea turtles and other ocean life mistake plastic as food and ingest it. An estimated that more than 100 million marine animals die each year as a result of eating or getting entangled in plastic. Avoid using disposable plastic bags, bottles, and "skip the straw." Check out some easy ways to reduce your use of plastics here.
5. Leave No Trace. This means practicing good housekeeping when visiting a beach where turtles nest. Remove your trash (and trash left by others) and any obstacles that may become hazards for nesting sea turtles and hatchlings like beach furniture, holes, and sandcastles. Turtles need clean and clear beaches (and oceans!) to increase their chances of survival.
6. Join a sea turtle conservation tour! Witnessing a sea turtle nesting or baby turtles erupting from a nest is pure magic. Proceeds from our trips directly benefit local sea turtle conservation efforts and nearby communities. We have generated more than US $1 million for conservation and local communities and completed thousands of volunteer shifts.
7. Turtles dig the dark! Sea turtles need dark beaches for nesting and for navigating their way to the ocean. Light from beachfront development can deter females from coming ashore to nest as well as lead newly born hatchling away from the water and towards danger. Learn more about sea turtle beach etiquette here.
8. Hang onto those balloons! Helium balloons can travel long distances, get caught in electric lines, and hurt animals like birds and sea turtles, which similarly to plastic bags can be mistaken for jellyfish. Learn more about reducing pollution from balloons from the folks at Balloons Blow.
9. Donate to a worthy cause. Billion Baby Turtles is a great way to help on the ground sea turtle conservation efforts in Latin America. For every $1 donated we can save 10 sea turtle hatchlings and we have saved more than a million so far! Learn more and donate to save baby turtles here. Another option is to set up a Facebook Fundraiser.
10. Choose sunscreen carefully. Chemicals in some types of sunscreen can damage coral reefs and pollute turtle habitat. Avoid any sunscreen with "oxybenzone" and look for brands labeled as "Reef Friendly" and avoid sprays that can pollute the sand where turtles nest. Check out this article in Vogue about the best ways to avoid sunburn. ?
WHAT IS SEE TURTLES?
We're a non-profit organization that protects sea turtles through conservation travel and volunteer tours, educational programs, and Billion Baby Turtles. Our award-winning programs help save sea turtle hatchlings on important nesting beaches around the world, work with the tourism industry to end the turtleshell trade, and educate students and travelers about how to help save sea turtles.
Photos: Neil Osborne, Hal Brindley, Daniela Langer (drawing)