Healthy oceans need sea turtles. Sea turtles are a “keystone species”, which means they may be an important part with their environment and effect other species around them. If a keystone species is taken off a habitat, the natural order can be disrupted, which influences other animals and fauna in various ways.
FIVE REASONS SEA TURTLES ARE ACTUALLY REALLY IMPORTANT
Turtles help control their prey. For instance, leatherbacks help manage the total amount jellyfish in the ocean, hawksbills help reefs by consuming sponges that contend with them for space.
Turtle nesting helps beaches. The nutrients left out by eggs and hatchlings that don’t survive offer an important source for coastal vegetation.
Hatchlings are an important way to obtain food for many animals. Birds, seafood, mammals like raccoons as well as others rely on plentiful hatchlings to survive during nesting season.
They are important for coastal economies and native communities. Many places rely on turtle observing or diving for careers and income and lots of indigenous communities revere sea turtles as part of their cultures. Plus there are psychological and psychological benefits to seeing a sea turtle in the open.
Green turtles grazing on seagrass can be an important way to keep seagrass bedrooms healthy. And healthy seagrass benefits many types and stores carbon.
Coral reefs are home to hawksbills, which focus on eating a small number of species of sea sponges. The dietary plan allows less common types of sponges to grow, which increases the variety of life on the reef (also known as “biodiversity”). Without hawksbills, sponges can overgrow and suffocate slow-growing corals triggering them to pass away. As reefs are more plus more threatened by local climate change and other impacts, the role of the hawksbill on the reef is even more essential. Learn how you can help protect hawksbills through our Too Rare To Wear advertising campaign and sign our pledge to avoid turtleshell.
Sea turtles likewise have a positive effect from the water. Nesting sea turtles help beaches by depositing their eggs in the sand. Eggshells and unhatched eggs left behind provide important nutrition that nourish dune vegetation such as beach grasses, which stabilize dunes and help to prevent coastal erosion.
Sea turtles are prey for other pets or animals at all stages of life. Hatchlings are prey for birds, crabs, land mammals, and fish. Adult sea turtles are prey for apex predators like sharks and orcas. On some beaches in Costa Rica, adult feminine sea turtles are even prey for jaguars that prowl nesting beaches at night, making sea turtles a fundamental element of food webs on land AND in the ocean!
Different species of sea turtles prey on different things, though most of them like jellyfish. Leatherback sea turtles focus on eating jellyfish which will keep jellyfish populations in balance. If leatherbacks were to disappear, jellyfish populations would explode. Jellyfish prey upon larval fish so without leatherbacks; without these larval seafood there would be no seafood in the sea! Again, it’s about balance.
Adult inexperienced sea turtles mostly eat sea grasses, operating as aquatic lawnmowers that assist keep seagrass bedrooms healthy (like mowing your lawn!). Seagrass beds which are found in shallow marine waters, provide habitat, food, and protected nursery areas for most fish species, permitting these to take shelter from predators until they are really bigger. Healthy seagrass mattresses also help stabilize the sea bottom which helps decrease erosion from wave action and storms.
Sea turtles provide habitat for a range of “aquatic hitchhikers” like barnacles and other small crustaceans, remoras, algae, and diatoms. Because sea turtle experience long migrations, they help to transport these species. They also act as sort of an umbrella for seafood that use them as shelter from predators. When at the sea surface to breathe or leftovers, sea turtles also sometimes provide a resting place for seabirds to land on – sort of such as a reptilian aircraft carrier!
IMPORTANCE TO HUMANS
Sea turtles play an important cultural role for most coastal communities around the world. Many indigenous cultures revere them or consider them ancestors. They are also an important income source for coastal residents through turtle-watching ecotourism. Research shows that sea turtle ecotourism can generate 3 x the income than by retailing sea turtle parts (eggs, beef, & shells), making them worth more alive than dead.
Aside from their important ecological role, sea turtles are a few of the most charismatic family pets on earth! It appears that everybody loves sea turtles. They are a source of awe and inspiration; enjoying them haul themselves up a beach to nest, swim by way of a reef, or observing hatchlings demand to the sea are truly magical and unforgettable experience. Without sea turtles our blue world wouldn’t be complete.