5 Reasons Sea Turtles Are Super Important

5 Reasons Sea Turtles Are Super Important

Why Is Sea Turtle Conservation Important?

Sea turtles, even at decreasing population levels, have played vital roles in the marine ecosystem. These roles range from maintaining healthy coral reefs that provide habitat to other marine animals, to transporting essential nutrients from water to land. 

Sea turtles provide balance to the marine food webs and sea turtle ecosystem. They help control the variety of other organisms by simply eating them. For example, leatherbacks eat jellyfish, keeping the amount of jellyfish in check. And it is vital as jellyfish prey on fish eggs, so more jellyfish means less fish.

It is only one of the many examples why it is important to save and conserve sea turtles. 

The following reasons show the importance of sea turtles and how they help the ecosystem.

This Sunday 23rd of May is World Turtle Day. Let’s recognize why sea turtle conservation is so important so we can take action to help save the turtles.

5 Reasons Sea Turtles Are Super Important

  • They maintain habitat 
  • Green turtles help maintain healthy seagrass beds. As they mainly feed on seagrass, when they graze on seagrass beds, it helps increase the productivity and nutrient content of the grass blades and prevents them from growing too long. Overgrown seagrass can obstruct currents and provide habitat to slime molds.

    Aside from green turtles, hawksbill sea turtles also help maintain habitat to other marine animals. With sponges growing fast, they give less chance for other corals to grow. Equipped with beak-like mouths, hawksbill sea turtles forage on a variety of sponges. And their sponge consumption is helpful in keeping the fast-growing population of sponges at bay and giving more space for the corals to grow.

  • They maintain a balanced food web
  • Again, as an example, jellyfish eat fish eggs and larvae. The increase in jellyfish is detrimental to the recovery of fish stocks. That is where the leatherbacks come in and by consuming jellyfish, keep their population in check. 

    Sea turtles also provide food for fish by carrying around barnacles, algaes and other similar organisms as they travel great distances. 

  • They facilitate essential nutrients from oceans to beaches
  • Loggerheads feed on hard shelled prey such as crustaceans. When they break these shells, loggerheads increase the rate at which the shells break apart and decompose, which in result, increases the nutrient recycling in the ocean bottom ecosystems. 

    Not only are they great in the oceans, but they are also of help on land. When females lay their eggs on the shorelines, they introduce nutrients and energy into these nutrient-poor beaches. Sea turtle eggs are of great nutritional benefit in each way - whether they hatch, fail to hatch, or get consumed by predators.

  •  They provide habitat to marine organisms
  • Many marine organisms depend on sea turtles as their habitat. These small creatures, such as barnacles and algae are called epibionts and attach themselves on solid surfaces like floating debris and sea turtle shells. 

    Compared to floating debris, sea turtle shells provide better survival rates, wider dispersal and more benefits for the attached epibionts. 

  • Their importance to humans.
  • While they prove to be of great importance to the marine ecosystem, they are also an important source of income for many coastal residents. Many people rely on turtle watching and diving for jobs.

    Aside from their ecological role, watching and seeing sea turtles in the wild gives emotional and psychological benefits to humans. They are a source of inspiration. 

    With these roles that sea turtles play and how they contribute to the ecosystems, losing them results in major changes not only in our oceans but also on the land. 

    Unfortunately, over the past centuries, sea turtle populations have been significantly declining all over the world. The main reason, initially, was direct fishing for sea turtles. In recent times, other threats such as injuries or death in commercial fisheries, degradation of their habitat, plastic pollution and climate change have topped the list. The population declines have diminished the species’ ability to maintain our ocean’s health.

    That is why sea turtle conservation is so important. To save what’s left of them. To protect and maintain their habitat so they have area for reproduction and rebuild their population to healthy levels.

    Help us save Green Turtles like “Hector”, our WWF adopted turtle, from extinction by choosing plastic free products that support our earth’s wildlife. To learn more about Hector and our adopted wildlife family, click here.