There’s World Turtle Day (May 23) then there’s World SEA Turtle Day, which is today! Why is June 16th World Sea Turtle Day? It is the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr who is widely known as “the father of sea turtle biology.” Dr. Carr focused his entire career on sea turtle research and conservation. According to The Sea Turtle Conservancy:
Archie Carr was a great biologist. His early descriptive studies of turtles set the standard of quality in the field of natural history. Later on, as he focused on sea turtles, he moved toward ecology and behavior, although his work always retained a taxonomic and evolutionary perspective. For decades the National Science Foundation (and the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Office of Naval Research) supported his research at Tortuguero, enabling him to mount one of the longest lasting and most intensive studies of an animal population that has ever been done. To date, more than 35,000 adult female green turtles have been tagged at the research station at Tortuguero. From this effort have come papers by Archie Carr, his students, and other investigators on orientation, migration, nesting behavior, nest physiology, sensory physiology, nutrition, demography, and other subjects. Almost all of the studies have significance for conservation — Archie Carr was a conservation biologist long before the field was recognized.
Of the seven sea turtle species, five are listed on the IUCN Red List as either vulnerable, endangered, or cirtically endangered. They are: leatherbacks (vulnerable), loggerheads (endangered), hawksbills (critically endangered), green sea turtles (endangered), Kemp’s Ridley (critically endangered), Olive Ridley (vulnerable), and flatback sea turtles (data deficient). What can you do to protect sea turtles?
- At night, keep bright lights off the beach to encourage sea turtles to nest and to ensure hatchlings can find their way to the sea.
- Keep beaches trash free to avoid turtles mistaking it for food or getting caught in plastic loops. Single use plastic bags are often mistaken by sea turtles for their favorite food, jellyfish. Consumption can cause them to suffocate.
- Join a coastal conservation effort working to protect sea turtle nests from predators.
- Of course you can always donate to MarineBio or join the MarineBio Conservation Society to help us share species information and raise awareness about the plight of endangered sea turtles. Whether you can spare $5 or $50, it will help us continue bringing the world a vast source of information on all things ocean.