National Safety Measures

With such seemingly large numbers of turtles laying large numbers of eggs, it is hard to imagine they are endangered. Humans have become a deterrent to the female turtles before they even approach the beach. Many turtles are scared away from traditional nesting sights because of too much noise. Also, since a turtle is unable to go in reverse, some of them can't get over trash that is left on the beach, are stopped by sand castles that block their way, or get deterred by holes that people have not filled in when they are leaving the beach, and thus turn around and do not lay their eggs. Turtle eggs are targets for prey the moment the female leaves them in the sand. Raccoons, birds, dogs and humans are their first enemies. If the hatchlings make it out of the nest, they face more obstacles. They need to find their way to the water to live, but there are birds that are waiting to eat them on the land. In addition, with so much building going on along coastlines, the lights are confusing the babies and causing them to walk away from the ocean instead of towards it.

Once the turtles are in the water, they still are not yet safe. Due to their size, many (up to 90%) of the babies are eaten by ocean prey. If they make it beyond their first year, sharks become a big predator. The Leatherback sea turtles need to be careful of the Orca whale. Of course, man is still an enemy to the mature turtle as well. The loss of natural habitats is causing a decline in numbers. The Hawksbill sea turtles is struggling due to loss of coral reefs, where is seems to live during its developmental years. Other turtles are facing a reduction in numbers due to garbage that is being thrown into the ocean, either accidentally or purposefully. Oil spills and other toxic spills and forms of pollution are taking their toll on these sea creatures. Along with this, scientists fear global warming is affecting sea turtles, just as it has been affecting other wildlife.

Since many sea turtles have been caught and drowned in fishing nets or line, organizations have passed bills in the protection of the sea turtles. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has mandated the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) on all trawling and fishing boats. These metal doors allow the turtles to swim out of the nets while the shrimp and fish are forced into the nets.

All of the sea turtles are protected by various international treaties and agreements as well as national laws. The Endangered Species Act requires the US government to identify species threatened with extinction, identify habitat they need to survive and help to protect both. In doing so, the Act works to ensure the basic health of our natural ecosystems. Sea turtles are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) which means that international trade of this species is prohibited. Along with CITES, the SWOT organization, which is a coalition of worldwide conservationists, is offering solutions to the lack of centralized resources for global sea turtle data. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) share U.S. protection and jurisdiction for sea turtles. NOAA is responsible for conservation and recovery in the marine environment (the ocean) and USFWS protects the turtles on the beaches.

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Terms: National Safety Measures, Loggerhead, Kemp's Ridley, North Carolina Beaches

Information on National Safety Measures, located on the Coast of North Carolina.

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