World Turtle Day - 129 Species At Risk Of Extinction

World Turtle Day - 129 Species At Risk Of Extinction

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on May 23, 2018

For the past 18 years, conservationists and animal fans have come together to celebrate an underrated (but nevertheless adored) animal: we are, of course, talking about turtles! This humble creature is the namesake and inspiration behind World Turtle Day and, on the 23rd of May every year, millions of people across the globe attempt to bring more awareness to turtles, increasing the knowledge of and respect for our shelled friends. If you want to find out how you can celebrate too, read on – but first of all, take a look at just a few of the reasons why these little guys need our help.

Of the 207 species of turtle and tortoise alive today, a shocking 129 of them are listed as vulnerable, endangered, or even critically endangered.

Just a few of the endangered species include the Leatherback turtle, the Yellow-headed box turtle, and the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle. Hawksbills, Olive Ridleys, and green sea turtles also face extreme threats – you can find out more about these species on our turtle page.

One of the main dangers for turtles is habitat loss, though ocean pollution, unsustainable fishing activities and illegal poaching activities put them at risk, too.

In fact, many of the main threats that turtles face can directly be linked back to mankind. Our oceans are full of plastic, which can choke or suffocate the animals (we’re all familiar with this heartbreaking video of a turtle having a straw removed from its nose); our city lights disorientate new hatchlings and draw them towards danger, as opposed to the sea (remember Planet Earth?); and turtles are served as a delicacy in many countries, even today. In addition to this, turtles are one of the most at-risk animals in the pet trade, with around 28,300 freshwater turtles being illegally traded each day.

Climate change has seriously harmed the turtle’s breeding cycle

Since turtles are extremely sensitive to the slightest of changes in temperatures, their breeding cycles suffers as a result (and, because of this, fewer turtles are being born.) As well as this, rising sea levels are making it increasingly difficult for turtles to find their homes: sea turtles are equipped with a magnetic memory map of the beach where they hatch, which should give them the unique ability to return to the same site years later to nest. But with melting ice caps come rising sea levels, eventually resulting in beaches disappearing…and leaving these turtles with nowhere to go.

So, how can we help?

As previously mentioned, millions of people around the world take part in World Turtle Day celebrations, so why not consider doing something too? There are a number of ways in which you can raise awareness, from dressing in green on the 23rd of May, to holding bake sales to raise money. Some other ideas are as follow:

  • Holding classes or awareness assemblies at your school, college, or university
  • Share your favourite turtle facts with your friends – after all, the more people know about these animals, the more compelled they’ll be to make a difference!
  • Consider more ethical options in your daily life, such as recycling and adopting energy-saving habits
  • Consider volunteering – we offer a number of turtle conservation projects in various, beautiful locations and, by taking part, you’ll be aiding vital efforts to protect these wonderful animals.

Want to learn more about turtle conservation? Head to our project page now!

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