Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why are sea turtles in big trouble these days?

Sea turtles are finding it very hard to survive these days. They are often being illegally hunted because of their meat which is regarded as delicacy in many exquisite restaurants and they are also finding it very hard to cope with the climate change and its side effects such as cyclones, rising seas and warming temperatures.

The latest study by the British scientists at the University of Exeter has found out that climate change and illegal hunting are not the two only threats which threaten sea turtles' survival. Large and even small-scale fisheries are also regarded as big threats to their survival. Why is that?

In their latest study scientists focused on small-scale fisheries in Peru, South America. By analyzing the available data scientists concluded that many sea turtles which originate from nesting beaches in Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Galapagos, are likely to be captured each year as a bycatch while they reside in Peru's waters,

The role of large scale fishing in sea turtles decline has been known for quite some time but this is the first study which shows that small-scale fisheries can also have devastating effect on turtles and other marine life.

The coastal area around Peru is one of the favorite destinations for five species of sea turtles, including loggerhead, green, leatherback, olive ridley and hawksbill turtles. On the other hand, Peru today has around 10,000 fishing vessels and 37,000 people working in fisheries.

Is it possible to keep both fishermen and sea turtles happy? The scientists believe that this could be achieved if fisheries were to change their fishing practices by for instance introducing circle hooks and dehookers to line fishing and using net illumination.

Sea turtles play extremely important role in marine food chain. Their favorite food includes kelp and other sea grass and this is extremely important because sea grass must be kept short to remain healthy (beds of healthy sea grass are essential breeding and development areas for many marine species).

Fisheries will have to pay more attention to these lovely creatures because their decline in population could very soon result in less caught fish.

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