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Movie Calls Attention to Sea Turtle Plight

I read “The Last Song,” and I saw the movie. It was a bit of tearjerker, but I did like it. One thing I liked most about it is the fact that Nicholas Sparks, the author, weaved the coming-of-age storyline with the nesting, protection, and birth of sea turtles. This sea turtle storyline was also present in another book I read many years ago, “Beach Music,” a novel by Pat Conroy.

I’m not sure the authors had this in mind when they wrote their now famous books, but I’m sure marine biologists everywhere are glad for the extra publicity to the plight of the sea turtle.

According to the organization, “State of the World’s Sea Turtles,” sea turtles have been around for more than 110 million years, outlasting even the dinosaurs. However, despite the fact that they seem to be a long-lasting species, they are indeed threatened. Of the seven species in existence today, six of them are considered endangered. And though it’s a hungry raccoon that threatens the turtle nest in "The Last Song," there are even worse threats.

• First, the fishing industry is responsible for tens of thousands of sea turtle deaths when the creatures get caught in lines and trawls. Those that are not caught are threatened by the reduction in their own food supply. Sadly, in certain places, sea turtles are actually fished for consumption, and for goods like jewelry.

• The development of homes, hotels and high-rise buildings, the increase in boat traffic, and sea floor dredging or beach replenishment projects can destroy turtle nesting areas and food supplies.

• Pollution, garbage and petroleum products are either killing sea turtles or adversely affecting their immune systems.

• Global warming and climate change have drastic effects on sea turtle populations since the warmth of the nesting sand is directly correlated to the sex of the turtles. Eggs hatched in sand above 86 degrees generally yield all females, and below 82 degrees generally yield all males.

So how can you help? You can volunteer with a local sea turtle conservation program or aquarium near your home. If you live near a beach, chances are you can help monitor turtle nests, assist with educational efforts, or work with rehabilitated turtles.

You can also make a commitment to never eat or purchase turtle products, no matter where in the world you find them. This behavior will just continue to encourage the unnecessary deaths of these beautiful creatures.

And finally, you can make a donation to any number of non-profit organizations that help preserve and study sea turtles. You can even adopt a sea turtle nest for a $40 donation to the National Sea Turtle Foundation.

State of the World’s Sea Turtles
Sea Turtle.org
National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation
Coral Reef Stars

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