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How do you view your relationship with this planet? Do you feel as if you “own” something, simply because you were born human? Or, do you strive to be a steward of the planet, speaking up for the environment and animals, because you realize that it will eventually be passed on to future generations? The latter is the only way to live in harmony with the Earth which sustains us. Unfortunately, this truth is slow to be accepted, leading to tragedies such as the world’s most endangered turtle being killed by a barstool.
Mid-August, the South Walton Turtle Watch uploaded a harrowing post to Facebook. The sad pictures and caption revealed that a critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle — the rarest of all sea turtles — had perished. The reason why? They had been trapped in a bar stool on a beach in Florida.
“We did get this beautiful lady out of the chair. She was a critical endangered Kemps and of course she was dead,” the post reads. “Look at her head to see what she went through. Poor thing it must have been an awful death.”
IFLScience reports that a local resident found the turtle on Dune Allen Beach, in South Walton County. Because of the condition of the remains, a necropsy could not be conducted. The cause of death was clear, however. Michael Abshure of South Walton Turtle Watch told local news WEAR-TV, “It was very heartbreaking to see such an endangered animal, [it] had to be a terrible way to die. Entangled in that chair, I would imagine that’s a long, slow death.”
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles
The critically endangered sea turtles are the rarest in the world. They only live in the Gulf of Mexico and part of the east coast of the U.S. ConserveTurtles.org reports that there are approximately 7,000-9,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the wild. In the 1940s, their numbers were in the hundreds of thousands. In the 1980s, however, there were only a few hundred total. Conservation efforts are helping to revive the subspecies’ numbers.
Human activity is the greatest threat to the turtles. The collection of eggs and killing of adults and juveniles for meat has taken a toll on their numbers. Nests have also been destroyed as “a result of high levels of incidental take by shrimp trawlers,” reports ConserveTurtles.org.
6 Ways You Can Help All Sea Turtles
There are only seven sea turtle species in the world, and six nests in the United States. Unfortunately, all of them are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. If you want to prevent the precious species from going extinct, take action by following the advice below:
- Avoid Beach Fires During Turtle Nesting Season
If you live near the beach or have plans to visit, avoid starting beach fires during nesting season. This is because the light and heat from beach fires disorient sea turtles. As a result, they may crawl toward the light and get hurt.
- Pick Up Litter and Trash
If you’re strolling along the beach at any time of the day and you see trash, pick it up. You — and every human — has a responsibility to keep the planet clean for all species to thrive. By doing your part, you prevent an innocent animal from ingesting plastic debris or getting caught in items, such as a barstool. “Please do not leave your items, anything, on the beach,” said the South Walton Turtle Watch in the Facebook post. “Why can’t we keep things off the beach at night? Please spread the word and do your part.”
- Ditch Plastic — For Good!
Plastic bags are the biggest threat for sea turtles, as they commonly mistake the debris for jellyfish — one of their main sources of prey. If a sea turtle gets trapped in a plastic bag or ingests it, it will likely die. Even if you don’t live near the beach, ditching plastic is a good idea. 80 percent of the rubbish which is tossed into landfills eventually makes its way to the oceans. There, it swirls in giant convergences, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Don’t Disturb Nesting Females
Sea turtles are amazing — we get that. But if you see a female sea turtle preparing to nest, walk the other way. Your presence may disturb her and the nesting process. If she gets spooked, she might “false crawl” and return to the sea without nesting.
- Keep An Eye Out While Boating
If you like to explore the high seas, just keep an eye out for sea turtles. Boats and propeller strikes are responsible for seriously injuring and/or killing sea turtles. To prevent such a horrid incident, slow down when you spot a turtle. Also, stay in channels and avoid boating over sea turtles’ habitats.
- Speak Out and Raise Awareness
There is no reason for you to stay silent about a cause you care about. Fortunately, the Internet can broadcast your thoughts to the masses. Tactfully share news like this to spread awareness. You can also start a fundraiser in your own community to raise funds for organizations which are fighting to protect the endangered sea turtles.
If every person makes it their personal mission to protect the environment and wildlife, the world we share will be a much different one in just a matter of years. If you agree, please share this news.
Lead image: South Walton Turtle Watch