Kids everywhere can rejoice in the knowledge that sea turtle populations are growing, reversing a trend of decades of decline.
Some of the best news coming out of this long, exhaustive survey of turtle habitats is that turtle conservation efforts generally seem to be having an impact. This is especially true at tourist destinations. On Florida’s St. George Island, for example, conservation efforts like beach monitoring, locating nests and placing cages over them to protect the eggs from predators, and recording successful hatchings, are proving themselves to be effective. Conservation efforts from local efforts are impactful as well: removing beach furniture, using only approved beach-lighting and keep lights off after 9 p.m., and staying away from turtles that are crawling back into the water are all practices that have helped the turtle return.
Of course, this boom comes with some caveats. Despite growing populations, scientists still don’t know exactly why this is happening, and so are unclear how to keep this trend going. Other research suggests that new turtle babies may be heavily skewing female due to rising temperatures — a potentially worrisome trend. Furthermore, while turtles are doing well in a dozen regions around the world, in the East and West Pacific, specifically, leatherback turtle populations are still on the decline.
So the next time you take your kids to the beach, talk to them about chipping in to save Finding Nemo‘s Crush and his kind — by turning off lights or adopting a nest yourself. It’s the right thing to do, duuude.