Threats Against Sea Turtles

Every year thousands of hatchling turtles emerge from their nests along the southeast U.S. coast and enter the Atlantic Ocean to make the journey to the vast ocean. Sadly, only an estimated one in 1,000 to 10,000 will survive to adulthood.  Today, all sea turtles found in U.S. waters are federally listed as endangered, except for the loggerhead which is listed as threatened.  They have both natural threats as well as human-caused threats.
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Natural Threats
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In nature, sea turtles face a host of life and death obstacles to their survival. Predators such as raccoons, crabs and ants raid eggs and hatchlings still in the nest. Once they emerge, hatchlings make bite-sized meals for birds, crabs and a host of predators in the ocean. After reaching adulthood, sea turtles are relatively immune to predation, except for the occasional shark attack. These natural threats, however, are not the reasons sea turtle populations have plummeted toward extinction. To understand what really threatens sea turtle survival, we must look at the actions of humans.
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Human-Caused Threats
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Harvested for Consumption
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Although sea turtles have spiritual or mythological importance in many cultures around the world, this has not prevented humans from consuming their eggs or meat. In many coastal communities, especially in Central America and Asia, sea turtles have provided a source of food. During the nesting season, turtle hunters comb the beaches at night looking for nesting females. Often, they will wait until the female has deposited her eggs to kill her. Then, they take both the eggs and the meat. Additionally, people may use other parts of the turtle for products, including the oil, cartilage, skin and shell. Many countries forbid the taking of eggs, but enforcement is lax, poaching is rampant, and the eggs can often be found for sale in local markets.
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Sea Turtle Shell Trade
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Hawksbill sea turtles, recognized for their beautiful gold and brown shells, have been hunted for centuries to create jewelry and other luxury items. As a result, these turtles are now listed as critically endangered. Scientists estimate that hawksbill populations have declined by 90 percent during the past 100 years. While illegal trade is the primary cause of this decline, the demand for shells continues today on the black market. The lack of information about sea turtles leads many tourists to unwittingly support the international trade in these endangered species. Buying, selling or importing any sea any sea turtle products in the U.S., as in many countries around the world, is strictly prohibited by law.
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Marine Debris
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It is estimated that more than 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. More than 80% of this plastic comes from land. It washes out from our beaches and streets. It travels through storm drains into streams and rivers. It flies away from landfills into our seas. As a result, thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow these plastics, mistaking them for food. Leatherbacks especially, cannot distinguish between floating jellyfish, a main component of their diet, and floating plastic bags. Most of the debris is recognizable: plastic bags, balloons, bottles, degraded buoys, plastic packaging, and food wrappers. Some plastics aren't so easy to see, so small, in fact, that it is invisible to the naked eye. If sea turtles ingest these particles, they can become sick or even starve.
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Artificial Lighting
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Nesting turtles depend on dark, quite beaches to reproduce successfully. Today, these turtles are endangered, in part, because they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents to use the beach. This man-made, coastal development results in artificial lighting on the beach that discourages female sea turtles from nesting. Instead, turtles will choose a less-than-optimal nesting spot, which affects the chances of producing a successful nest. Also, near-shore lighting can cause sea turtle hatchlings to become disoriented when they are born. Instead, they will wander inland where they often die of dehydration, predation, or even from being run over on busy coastal streets.
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Eager to learn more? -> visit conserveturtles.org 
(the above info is sourced from conserveturtles.org)