Sea turtles – beautiful, endangered species

Sea turtles

Sea turtles are one of the most iconic and loveable ocean animals. They have been around for a very long time, an estimated 110 million years.

I’ve had the pleasure of swimming with them in Barbados and also saw some in Galapagos Islands. They have incredibly cute faces and can swim quite fast, so it’s hard to keep the tempo up with the large ones. This painting was inspired by one of the photos of these beautiful creatures we took in Barbados.
It was nearly finished for a while, with just sides of the canvas and signing left.

6 out of 7 species of sea turtles are either threatened or endangered

Unfortunately, almost all species of sea turtle are classified as endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face coastal development which leads to loss of nesting habitat or making previous nesting areas unsuitable, ocean pollution (think plastic waste), boat traffic and accidental capture in fishing gear (bycatch). Climate change has a big impact on turtle nesting sites as it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings.

3 interesting facts about sea turtles

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Temperature dictates the sex of baby turtles

During egg incubation, sex is determined by the temperature of the surrounding environment. Warm temperatures tend to produce more female hatchlings, whereas cooler temps result in males. Climate change could drastically affect sea turtle populations by creating too many females and too few males to match them for reproduction.

They love jellyfish for dinner

Hawkbill (like one on my painting) and leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish and keep their populations in check. Unfortunately floating in the water plastic looks like jellyfish to them, meaning many turtles eat it and die from ingestion.

They have built-in compass

Sea turtles can detect the planet’s magnetic field, and they use it as a compass, they come with built-in GPS. Sailors use latitude and longitude to navigate in the seas and oceans. Sea turtles detect even slight variations in the Earth’s magnetic field and can pinpoint particular coastlines based on their magnetic signature. That’s why females can return to the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs.

Some of the ways how we can help save sea turtles

  • Supporting sea turtle research and conservation organisations and projects through volunteering or donating funds.
  • Not purchasing sea turtle products, like meat, eggs, oil, or tortoiseshells.
  • Reducing marine debris, meaning always disposing of rubbish properly, using fewer disposable items and plastics, buying locally and purchasing items with less packaging.
  • Reducing carbon footprint by using less energy.