I am Masingita Lizzy Maluleke.I did Bachelor degree of Enviremental Sciences at the University of Venda for science and technology majored with Geography and Ecology and Resourse Managenment.I am presantly doing honours with the university of the Western Cape in Ecological Informatics.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Sea turtles are reptiles species classify in phylum Chordata and order Festudines. Sea turtles are categorised into two families called Dermochelyidae (leatherback turtle) and Chelonnidae (kemp’s ridleys turtles, olive ridleys turtles, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, flatback turtles, and loggerhead sea turtles (1)). Sea turtles are aquatic (ponds, oceans, seas, lakes, rivers) dwellers and lay their eggs on terrestrial (beaches, dunes) (2). The internal organ of turtles is covered by hard (carapace and plastron) shells made of many fused bones called scutes (1). Shells protect the interior of such as heart from bacteria and parasites (1). Turtles have been in the planet since Triassic period about 200 million years ago (2).Sea turtles and their eggs are facing a high risk of becoming extinction in United States (3).

Loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and olive’s ridleys turtles ( Lepidochelys olivecea), were listed as threatened in United States by Endangered Species Act (4 )). Leatherbacks (Dermochely coriacea) green turtles (Chelonia mydas), kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii), flatback turtles (Natator depressa), and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) were listed as endangered in United States by Endangered Species Act (4).

Human activities at the edge of the oceans can have the negative impact on sea turtles and their nesting habitat. Constructions of roads and houses at the edge of beaches have the negative impact on the nesting habitat of turtles. Sea turtles lay eggs and bury them in beach sand so the eggs under the soil can be damaged during the movement of people from one place to another accidentally. Human also harvest shells of the turtles and use them to make jewelleries (5). The lights from the houses built near the sea and night driving disturb the female sea turtles from nesting and return to the sea. It will decrease the natality (birth) of turtles (5). Lights can confuse hatchings on beaches and they will migrate to the land, where they often die of dehydration. Some people harvest eggs of the turtles for the economic purposes while some harvest for the food (6).

Some people believed that the blood of turtles could be used to cure disease. Luis Felipe Lopez has done a research about the blood matter and King Louise XI confirmed that the blood cure his leprosy disease (7). The King says that he used the turtles blood to rub the affected area.

Polluted water by oil spilt, fertilizers, petroleum, and urban run off chemicals have a negative impact on sea turtles. The above-mentioned pollutants can cause diseases and kill sea turtles. They can also kill prey of sea turtles (marine plants and animals) in the oceans and the sea turtles will end up not having food (5). The death of turtles can cause by dumping trash near the beaches. Turtles will die after eating the debris such as plastic bags, tar balls, balloons, pellets, and bottle (5).

Global warming and climate change also have an impact on sea turtles (8). As we know that sea turtles have temperature-dependent sex determination that will increase in global temperature. For those who do not know sex of turtles hatchling while they are still in eggs determine by temperature. Scientists believe that cool temperature produce male turtles while warm temperature produces female turtles (8). When temperature increases, the population of sea turtles become unstable because some turtles hatchling died (8).

All people must follow the laws and regulations to conserve turtles not getting extinction. International laws and agreements, organisations and individuals must cooperate and share the responsibility on conserving turtles. In the United States, the law forbids the purchase of items made from the turtles, for examples, buying jewelleries, and selling the eggs and meat of turtles (5)). The endangered Species Act is the national law that protects sea turtles (5). Other act includes Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Marine Turtle Protection Act. The law stipulated that it is illegal to kill the sea turtles, to import and sell the products made by turtles. National Marine Fisheries Services, and Fish and Wildlife Services in United States also protect sea turtles (5).

People have to reduce their disturbances at the edge of the beach for example; they have to decrease impacts and lights in the beaches. People must stop dumping the debris near the beaches and it will help if public awareness is conducted to the communities. Sea turtles need the conservation that should focus on their nesting habitat. Oceans, rivers, and seas also need a monitoring to asses the health of the sea turtles and their prey.


1. Roberson D. Available from: Sea Turtles: families Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae. 2000 [Online]. September 23. [Cited 2007 February 26]. Available from:

2. Nicholas M. Light pollution and marine turtle hatchlings .2001. [Online]. [Cited March 2]. Available from:

3. Quintanilla E. Hurrcane Emily takes toll on sea turtles. 2007. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 5]. Available from:

4. Anonymous. Sea Turtle Species of the World. Caribbean Conservation Corporation &Sea Turtle survival league. 1995 [Online]. [Cited 2007 February 28]. Available from:

5. Anonymous. Sea Turtles Threats & Conservation. Caribbean Conservation Corporation &Sea Turtle survival league. 2003. [Online]. [Cited 2007 February 28]. Available from:

6. Anonymous. Marine turtles. Three of the seven existing species of marine turtles are critically endangered. 2007. [Online]. 2007 February 20 [Cited 2007 March 1] Available from:

7. Anonymous. An Insight into Africa’s threatened sea turtles.2002. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 4]. Available from:

8. University of Exeeter. Scientists warn climate change risk to marine turtles. 2007. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 2]. Available from:


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