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English Script Request

Complete / 470 Words
by adelie -

What is it about sea turtles? How are they able to move us so deeply, perhaps more than any other marine creature? Sea turtles are at once emblematic flag ships for the oceans, and umbrella species whose conservation requires the preservation of intact habitats ranging from the tropical nesting beaches to subarctic foraging grounds. In the minds of many, sea turtles lie somewhere between the canaries in the coalmine that remind us of how our impacts on the oceans are reaching critical thresholds, and messenger pigeons, whose great value has almost spelt their doom. And unlike many other charismatic marine animals, like dolphins, whales, manta rays and whale sharks, a great number of people -- young and old, urbanites and farmers, environmentalists and skeptics -- have had the opportunity to interact with turtles in the wild. Once a nesting female or a tiny hatchling are accounted, sea turtles manage to convert even the most unsentimental amongst us into ardent conservationists. Conservation of sea turtles presents enormous challenges for the world. Their reliance on diverse habitats -- ranging from clean and open-access tropical beaches, to off-shore nursing grounds, to unrestricted migration corridors across whole ocean basins, to productive feeding grounds on coral reefs, seagrass meadows and cold, open ocean areas -- means that cooperation among countries is essential. In addition, since so many sea turtles are killed incidentally in commercial fishing operations, their protection means restructuring how and where we fish: something that is notoriously difficult to do when highly lucrative fishing interests are at stake. On the other end of the economic spectrum, sea turtle eggs and adults represent an important source of protein to impoverished and marginalized people the world over, who continue to overexploit turtles in light of the lack of alternatives. This is not to say that marine turtle conservation has not made great headway in the last fifty years. Many of the populations of the seven known species of sea turtles are stable or recovering, thanks to intensive efforts to protect nesting beaches, equip the most damaging fishing gears with Turtle Excluder Devices, establish voluntary guidelines to shield nesting beaches from artificial light, and create strict regulations on take in most coastal countries in the world. However, for every step forward we seem to have faultered, and even taken some steps back. The Pacific populations of the leatherback turtle are plummeting so drastically that some predict their imminent extinction. The Kemp's ridley is barely holding on despite many decades of head-starting and a strong focus on getting all shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico where they occur equipped with Turtle Excluder Devices. And many coastal species, such as loggerheads and green turtles, show signs of disease. Thus, despite turtles having touched so many humans, we seem somehow incapable of securing their futures alongside our own.


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