These days, I find sea turtles endlessly fascinating – I haven’t this excited about a living creature since my discovery of the horseshoe crab in grad school. I saw one while wading in the waters at Cordwood Beach and was at first a bit scared – they have that spiky tail, which I later learned is harmless. Anyway, about the sea turtles.
I will admit, that I’ve always had a soft spot for turtles in general. I loved finding pond turtles as a kid, and spying the turtles that live in the water pools outside the entrance to the Oakland Museum. But sea turtles… they are just so majestic and graceful in the water. And they are very old – some consider them to be living dinosaurs, as they’ve been around for millions of years.
When I was in Mexico a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the sea turtle tortugranja on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I took some photos and saw both baby and adult sea turtles. It was awesome, and a highlight of the trip.
Lately, I’ve been particularly worried about the sea turtles in the Gulf. Aside from the toxicity of the waters from all that oil and methane, there’s the burning that being used on the oil slick. The fire is consuming the sargassum (a kind of brown seaweed) beds in the process. Turtles live in sargassum beds in the sea, but in the Gulf, those beds are getting burned and sea turtles are inadvertently burning along with them. Horrible. And then there’s just the toxicity of the water itself, and any questionable thing the turtle might accidentally eat.
The Gulf is home to 5 sea turtle species, including the Kemp’s Ridley, which live only in the Gulf of Mexico and on the US East coast. They are critically endangered, and this oil monstrosity is putting them even more at risk. Some have already been found stranded or dead, covered in oil. It’s heartbreaking.
I feel helpless about this whole thing – what can I do about the sea turtles? Well, I’ve donated. Twice. I’ve encouraged others to do the same. I’ve also sent a comment to the White House about loggerhead sea turtles, requesting that their status be updated to endangered, to protect them further. As I continue to read about these amazing creatures, I am sure I’ll find other ways to help.
So now, I’m going to learn about them. I purchased what looks like a pretty excellent book, Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation. This should give me a good overview of these incredible animals. Maybe after I know more, I can help the turtles in a more constructive way. Anything is possible.
Also, check out the sea turtle headlines widget I’ve installed on this site, in the footer. This will keep us up-to-date on the latest sea turtle news!