This post is more of a plea for a cause that is very close to my heart. Ok, as you can see these creatures may not be the sexiest of all the animals on God’s green earth. But believe it or not, this is not the only criteria that should be taken into account when deciding which species to save. I know what you’re thinking; “That’s rich coming from a guy who writes a blog called ‘Sexy Science'”, but just listen to my plea anyway. Out of all of the critically endangered sea turtles you may have heard of, this is the most vulnerable and important to save. Its currently under a 3 pronged attack that could leave it extinct within 10 years.
Firstly there is a certain type of fishing strategy called “long line pelagic fisheries” widely used throughout the Atlantic ocean that is thought to trap thousands of turtles per year. Secondly, although global warming is of course a problem for all species, it is a very imminent one for these leatherbacks. There have a very skewed sex ratio with most populations being made up of around 90% females. Because gender is determined by incubation temperature in the eggs, and females are formed at higher temperatures, this ratio is set to get even more uneven, therefore reducing the amount of mating pairs that can form. Thirdly, it is common practice to poach eggs and the adult turtles in many cultures around the world, namely Malaysia and Costa Rica. The human race is responsible for all of the factors above.
So why save them you ask? What makes them so special you ask? Well firstly they are one of the oldest reptiles we know of managing somehow to survive the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. That makes them around 90 million years old. This thing survived a meteor strike! It is ridiculous that they may go extinct within the next 10 years because of us. It also is thought to have importance in maintaining fishery yields as it keeps jellyfish numbers down (which feed on fish and fish eggs).
But apart from anything else, these majestic beings have wow factor! The photo below gives you a sense of the sheer scale of them:
I actually stayed in French Guiana for 3 months helping hatchlings escape from the sand in which their eggs were buried in, so that they could get to the sea. I was often inches away from fully grown adults and let me tell you, they are truly breath taking!
For these reason I believe they are up there with other charismatic endangered animals, such as tigers and pandas, and must be saved.
This is where the plea begins. The Sea Turtle conservancy is a fantastic organisation that concentrates on conserving all sea turtles but identifies leatherbacks as a particular focus. Please give whatever you can to them. You can adopt a turtle for just $30 (around £15). Here’s a link to their donation page:
Thanks for reading guys, rant over.