Sea turtles face a long list of human induced threats including entanglement in fishing gear, by catch, ocean pollution, disorientation from artificial light from commercial and residential buildings, and poaching. Humans post the most significant threat to the survival of sea turtles today, but ironically, we also hold the key to their survival.
In southeastern Florida, sea turtle poaching is thankfully not an issue, but nesting turtles and hatchlings face an equally vexing problem. Loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles and hatchlings are at great risk in this region because industrial light pollution from businesses and homes along Florida’s Gold Coast, threatens the safety of the turtles and hatchlings by directing them away from the water and toward dangerous lighted streets and properties, where they become dehydrated and die or get crushed by cars.
Pollution, poaching and accidental drownings in fishing gear have contributed to rapid population depletion and there is no end in sight. In an effort to ensure that female sea turtles are not disturbed while nesting and that their nests are not looted by poachers, who steal and sell the eggs, Sea Shepherd volunteers will patrol the beaches nightly, defending these peaceful creatures from August through November.