Words by Smiley Team
Sea turtles are often a picture of what we imagine the climate and pollution crisis will result in. Many restaurants and bars have elected to use paper straws so turtles didn’t choke, and miles of road have their lights almost completely off at night for nearly half the year for sea turtle hatching seasons.
There’s a fear that as the oceans become polluted that sea turtles will all but cease to exist, so news that the world’s smallest and most endangered sea turtle, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, nested off the coast of Lousiana for the first time in 75 years there was cause for celebration.
“Louisiana was largely written off as a nesting spot for sea turtles decades ago, but this determination demonstrates why barrier island restoration is so important,” said Chip Kline, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority.
The Chandeleur Islands, where the turtles were found, are a chain 50 miles east of New Orleans and were being monitored by crews to help design a restoration project that found tracks of females going to and from nests and of hatchlings leaving a nest.
“The endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle has returned to nest on the Chandeleur Islands, highlighting the need to protect this sensitive habitat so it can continue to be home to ocean and coastal wildlife in the future,” said Beth Lowell, vice president for the United States of the environmental nonprofit Oceana.
The loggerhead turtle is also nesting on the islands, after being found on a nearby island called the Grand Isle in 2015, the first time in over 30 years.
Most of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is found in and around Mexico, where they used to count in the tens of thousands, but in the 1980s a low of only about 250 did so, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“It is well known that the Chandeleur Islands provide key habitats for a host of important species; however, with the recent discovery of a successful Kemp's ridley sea turtle hatching, the islands' value to the region has been elevated,” Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet said.
DONATE: Oceana is an organization that helps support ocean wildlife like the turtles in this piece. Donate if you want to show some support.
SUPPORT: Watch your plastic usage and where it ends up. Sea turtles choke on plastic waste in the water, mistaking it for food, so limiting pollution is essential for their survival.