The global sea turtle population has continued to shrink in recent years, which is why more and more sea turtle projects have been established all over the world. If you are committed to sea turtle project, this thus gives you the opportunity to engage in this kind of voluntary work. As a volunteer abroad, you can do your part to make sure that turtles are protected from the various threats they face. In case you would hate to see this entire species die out, your help is urgently needed. From protecting their nesting grounds to raising baby sea turtles, there is much that you can do to save sea turtles from dying out. For all those interested in volunteering in sea turtle project, we are thus going to provide a number of key facts that you should be aware of below. Find out what it means to become a marine life volunteer in what follows and let us help you prepare for your voluntary work abroad.
Why does sea turtle conservation matter and how can you help?
Sea turtles and leatherback turtles play an important role in the maritime ecosystem. If these turtles were to become extinct, this could throw an entire ecosystem off balance with other species possibly becoming extinct as well. As such, volunteering in sea life conservation means that you will be making a worthwhile contribution to keeping the worldwide sea turtle population alive and well. In order to achieve this long-term sea turtle conservation goal, you will be asked to contribute to the following causes as a volunteer abroad:• Help to stop the international trade of sea turtles and products made from sea turtle body parts • Help to prevent sea turtles from dying as a side effect of commercial fishing gone wrong • Protection of nesting beaches • Eliminate potential disturbances at sea turtle nesting spots • Help with various research activities • Help to monitor the local sea turtle population • Run various educational programs to raise awareness
Threats to Sea Turtles
Both leatherback and sea turtles face numerous threats, many of which are manmade. Given that there are several natural threats, which result in only 1 out of every 1,000 to 10,000 sea turtle babies surviving, these additional threats are catastrophic news. Hence, your work as a volunteer is very much needed. While ants, crabs, and raccoons regularly raid sea turtle nests, sea turtles further have to fear several predators once they make it to the ocean. This is true of both the sea and leatherback turtle. While adult sea turtles rarely fall prey to their natural predators, making it to adulthood is the hard part. Moreover, adult sea turtles are at risk of being harvested for consumption, for example. In turn, all turtle conservation work must focus on both protecting baby and adult sea turtles alike. In particular, it is these manmade threats that you will be asked to fight as an international volunteer:
- Illegal hunting of sea turtles for consumption, sale, or trade
- Accidental capture and killing of sea turtles by commercial fishermen
- Humpback Whales
- Entanglement and ingestion of marine debris by sea turtles
- Marine pollution, which can cause injury or death of turtles
- Global warming/ climate change
- Oil spills, which are hurting sea turtles
While the aforementioned factors mainly affect ocean-bound sea turtles, there are several threats that nesting sea turtles face on land as well. After all, quiet, dark beaches are a prerequisite for sea turtles to successfully reproduce on land. However, unfortunately more and more beaches are equipped with artificial lighting, which makes it close to impossible for sea turtles to find a nesting spot where they will not be seen by their natural predators. Thus, artificial lighting increases the risk of baby sea turtles being killed before they even get the chance to hatch.
In addition, marine biologists have issued yet another warning in regards to artificial lighting, which can cause freshly hatched sea turtles to become disoriented. This leads sea turtle babies to wander inland instead of making their way to the ocean. Ultimately, this means that these sea turtles will likely die from dehydration or other causes. Hence, many projects have committed to closely monitoring the hatching of sea turtles and volunteers taking those disoriented sea turtles to the ocean, where they belong. Also note that many owners of beach homes have built various kinds of coastal armoring structures, which are causing the natural nesting ground of sea turtles to shrink as well.
This not only means that sea turtles are left with much smaller nesting grounds, but they might have to choose less ideal nesting spots, too, where predators stand a better chance of stealing their eggs. Excessive beach activities and beach erosion on sea turtle nesting beaches are another huge concern in the eyes of most sea turtle conservation experts. Not only can sea turtles get entrapped in beach furniture, but the freshly laid sea turtle eggs might even get crushed. Tire ruts, which can be found on more and more beaches, also make it hard for turtle babies to reach the ocean in the first place. On their way to the ocean, some sea turtle babies might simply give up due to exhaustion and thus never make it to their final destination. As such, it should have become clear that sea turtle conservation experts are facing several challenges when it comes to protecting sea turtles all over the world from becoming extinct.
Where can you become a volunteer in sea turtle conservation?
If you are eager to aid in turtle conservation, you can choose from a number of programs. Sea turtle conservation volunteers are needed all over the world since turtles can be found in almost all of the world’s oceans. This presents you with a unique opportunity as a prospective sea turtle conservation volunteer. You get to choose where you want to become a volunteer abroad and which culture you would like to immerse yourself in. As you are checking out our various sea turtle conservation programs, you might thus like to consider the following destinations:
Also keep in mind that you should not just choose your preferred sea turtle conservation program based on its location. Instead, we ask you to check out the individual program requirements, too, so as to make the best possible decision about your future volunteer destination. No matter where you decide to volunteer, we are 100% certain that your work will make a difference in the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of sea turtles.