Why Sea Turtles Are Endangered

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• Bycatch Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks, and in fishing gillnets. They become fisheries Bycatch—unintended catch of non-target species. Sea turtles need to reach the surface to breathe and therefore, many drown once caught. Incidental capture by fishing gear is the greatest threat to most sea turtles, especially endangered loggerheads, greens, and leatherbacks. This threat is increasing as fishing activity expands. • Overharvesting and illegal trade Hawksbill sea turtles, recognized for their beautiful gold and brown shells, have been hunted for centuries to create jewelries and other luxury items. As a result, these turtles are now listed as critically endangered. Scientists estimate that hawksbill populations have declined by 90% during the past 100 years. While illegal trade is the primary cause of this decline, the demand for shells continues today on the black market. The lack of information about sea turtles leads many tourists to unwittingly support the international trade in these endangered species. Buying, selling or importing any sea turtle products in many countries around the world is strictly prohibited by law. Some also kill turtles for medicine and religious ceremonies. Killing of turtles for both domestic and international markets continues as well. • Habitat loss Sea turtles are dependent on beaches for nesting. Uncontrolled coastal development, vehicle traffic on beaches, and

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