Essay about Swimming in Hawaii
Along the shoreline and beaches of Hawaii, a person is bound to come upon a sea turtle or two. Their beauty is remarkable itself until the plastic choking around its neck, the tumors that bulge on its body, and the sad, fearful complexion on its face is seen. Hawaii’s honu may be one of the most alluring reptiles on Earth. However, these Native Hawaiian sea turtles are also one of the most endangered species on Earth.
Sea turtles are considered an endangered species due to many factors. They are threatened by the hunting and trading of humans, being caught in fishing gear, overharvesting of their eggs and loss of nesting beach sites, disease, plastic waste, and more. It is up to the people of the community to take initiative and make a positive change for the depending lives of these fascinating creatures. The big question is, can the people of the community help save the sea turtles?
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First off, why are sea turtles so important? Well, green turtles graze on seagrasses and algae, which maintains the seagrass beds and makes them more productive (much like mowing the lawn to keep it healthy). The consumed seagrass is digested very quickly by the turtles and becomes a recycled nutrient that is obtainable to many other species living in the seagrass ecosystem. Seagrass beds act as nurseries for several species of invertebrates and fish.
Most of these fish are of significant value to commercial fisheries and are therefore very important to human food security. Without seagrass beds, many marine species humans harvest would be lost, as would the lower levels of the food chain. It all starts from the actions of these remarkable sea turtles, providing life and necessity.
Turtling is the hunting of turtles. One factor that has a negative effect on sea turtles is the ongoing hunting and illegal trade of sea turtles. There is a big, continuing problem with deliberate hunting in many countries. While the sea turtle continues to be hunted and its eggs harvested, there is a market for their eggs and meat worldwide.
Much of hunting is for human consumption, although the trade of turtle parts remains a profitable business. Tens of thousands of green turtles are harvested every year in parts of Asia and the Western Pacific, as well as along the Eastern Pacific coast of Mexico. Even in West Africa, where sea turtles are killed and used in medicine and collected for traditional ceremonies.
Hawaii’s green sea turtles are listed as an endangered species, making it illegal to harass, feed, hunt, capture or kill the turtles. This protection barrier has been implemented since 1978. As the Maui Now news explains, “”A pending decision by National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish and Wildlife could erase this federal protection, which would return the turtles’ management to the state. If the turtles are delisted, an existing Hawaii law makes it illegal to hunt the turtles”” (Rillero, Anne). Anywhere and everywhere green turtles are still at risk from exploitation, however, positive change can be brought upon the sea turtles with help and support from people of the community.
Protecting Nests is a great way in helping the survival of the turtle population to thrive. Field biologists sometimes protect sea turtle nestlings from predators by placing screens over them. Scientists will also relocate the eggs laid too close to the water or in erosion zones to safer areas. Sea turtles and their nests are protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Florida Marine Protection Act. A few inexpensive ways an individual can help is by reducing plastic use to keep our beaches and the ocean clean while keeping nesting beaches dark and safe for sea turtles. Perhaps participate in coastal clean-ups! Never forget to call the professionals if an individual is to come across a nesting site or wounded animal.
Another factor that has a negative effect on these beautiful creatures is disease. Sea turtles are slowly dying off due to a plague known as fibropapillomatosis (FP). FP is a disease that is caused by biotoxins and contaminants found throughout Hawaiian oceans. It is found in every ocean basin on the planet, affecting more than ninety percent of turtles in most places and nearly sixty percent in Hawaii. FP’s tumors, known as fibropapillomatosis, appear in the eyes, mouth, nasal passages, skin, even on the shell, and deep within the turtle’s body. Turtles may show signs of chronic stress, starvation, and immunosuppression, sometimes stranding their emaciated and dead bodies on island beaches.
The tumors are caused by a type of herpes virus (not the same ones that can infect people). It is similar to skin cancer recurring in turtles living close to developed areas, especially in polluted and dirty water. The pollution and dirty water are caused by waste entering the ocean and affecting the environment greatly. That’s why juveniles most often show symptoms. They live close to shore, whereas hatchlings and adults live in the open ocean.
The tumors also sometimes go away on their own. The tumors are linked to fertilizers and toxic waste runoffs near the shore. The reduction of waste entering the ocean is an inexpensive and easy way anyone can participate in for saving the turtles. This particular problem is one of the biggest problems the world faces today.
“”Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. Currently, it is estimated that there are 100 million tons of plastic in oceans around the world. It is expected that another 60 billion pounds will be produced this year alone”” (Sea Turtle Conservancy)””. As explained in the beginning, new research suggests that FP is killing many sea turtles. New research proves there is a link to pollution in the oceans and in nearshore waters.
When pollution contaminants and kills the aquatic plant and animal life, it also destroys feeding habitats for sea turtles. Oil spills and urban runoff of chemicals and fertilizers (such as GMO) all contribute to water pollution. An estimated 36% of all marine pollution from oil comes through drains and rivers from cities. Fertilizers are another huge marine pollutant. The runoff comes from farms and lawns, causing eutrophication from the extra nutrients.
There many ways the community can involve themselves in the mission of diminishing the amount of waste that enters the ocean, decreasing further pollution. Education is important in solving marine pollution. The public can get involved in this issue by enforcing fertilizer bans near waterways and using fewer chemical fertilizers. Perhaps opting for natural compost instead and buying organically produced food and products.
As well as reducing oil consumption by carpooling, using public transportation or buy energy-efficient vehicles, and speaking out against offshore drilling. Get informed about local waste disposal to ensure that untreated wastewater isn’t introduced to natural waterways and oceans. Replace plastic bottles with reusable water bottles and shopping bags. Please discard of garbage and fishing line responsibly, especially plastic bags!
Turtles are frequently caught in fishing nets as “”bycatch”” meaning that they were accidentally caught. Because turtles breathe air, if they are stuck in fishing nets and unable to surface, they easily drown. Even if the turtle somehow manages to get out in time, they usually die of shock. However, there is a handy invention that can solve this problem, “”TEDs (turtle excluder devices) became a mandatory piece of equipment for all trawlers fishing in US waters. These are a device that attaches to the net so that large objects (like sea turtles) will be released from the net without affecting the fisherman’s catch size”” (Brie). The average cost of a TED is around $375. This type of accessory is a necessity when it comes to saving turtles, which is further saving ecosystems.
There are ways the people of our community can take action to make a change and save this beautiful species. As shown turtles are threatened by the hunting and trading of humans, being caught in fishing gear, overharvesting of their eggs and loss of nesting beach sites, disease, plastic waste, and more. It is up to the people of the community to take initiative and make a positive change for the depending lives of these fascinating creatures.
The big question is, can the people of the community help save the sea turtles? There are plenty of great wildlife programs that could use another individual’s expertise. Organizations such as the NMLC and Mass Audubon Society always need help. Mass Audubon is a sea turtle rescue program. Other actions such as donating and volunteering are great ways to help. There are things big and small that everyone in the community can do to help save the sea turtles.