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Each year, thousands of hatchling sea turtles emerge from their nests on many of the world's sandy beaches and enter the ocean. Sadly, as few as one in 1,000 will survive into adulthood. The natural obstacles that young and adult sea turtles face are staggering. However, it is the increasing threats caused by humans that are driving these species to extinction. Today, six out of seven sea turtles species are considered endangered or critically endangered worldwide. In order to ensure that sea turtles do not go extinct, it is vital that scientists, conservationists, governments and the general public work together to combat these human threats.

Each turtle is swimming to raise awareness about a "Cause." As a turtle is supported through Adopt-A-Turtle donations, her Cause Meter will show the amount raised by that turtle. Each Cause represents a threat listed below:

Commercial Longline Fisheries

Each year hundreds of thousands of adult and immature sea turtles are accidentally captured in fisheries. The estimates of annual capture, injury and mortality for longlines is more than 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherbacks. Other fisheries that accidentally take turtles include dredges, trawls, pound nets, pot fisheries, and hand lines. Learn more about Groove's Cause.

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Water Quality

Water quality is affected by chemical run-off that makes it to the sea. The ocean, while it seems so vast, had long been a dumping ground for much of the waste produced on land. From solids to chemicals and even nuclear products, waste has been dumped in the ocean with the mindset that it will eventually disperse and become harmless. It is not harmless though, and can become even more concentrated and dangerous after entering the food chain. Even when humans aren't directly dumping waste into the oceans though, toxic chemicals are still making their way to the sea. Fertilizers, pesticides and other products often make it to waterways through chemical run-off. These chemicals can seep into the soil and travel for long distances, eventually reaching the oceans where they can be carried by currents. Learn more about Crystal's Cause.

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Invasive Species Predation

Around the globe, sea turtles and hatchlings alike are victim to natural predators. Crabs, raccoons, boars, birds, fish and sharks all play their role in the natural food chain. However, urban development along coast lines has introduced many non-native species that have become invasive predators for sea turtles and other coastal wildlife. Florida itself has one of the most severe invasive species problems in the United States. Domesticated dogs and cats will devour eggs and hatchlings and even attack nesting turtles. In many areas, trash left behind by humans encourages inland animals to migrate to beaches for food, further increasing sea turtle predators. Learn more about Gayle's Cause.

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Plastic Debris

It is estimated that more than 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. More than 80% of this plastic comes from land. It washes out from our beaches and streets. It travels through storm drains into streams and rivers. It flies away from landfills into our seas. As a result, thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow these plastics, mistaking them for food. Most of the debris is recognizable: plastic bags, balloons, bottles, degraded buoys, plastic packaging, and food wrappers. Some plastics aren't so easy to see, so small, in fact, that it is invisible to the naked eye. If sea turtles ingest these particles, they can become sick or even starve. Learn more about Bubbles's Cause.

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1st Place -
Causes Winner!
Light Pollution

Nesting turtles depend on dark, quite beaches to reproduce successfully. Today, these turtles are endangered, in part, because they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents to use the beach. This man-made, coastal development results in artificial lighting on the beach that discourages female sea turtles from nesting. Instead, turtles will choose a less-than-optimal nesting spot, which affects the chances of producing a successful nest. Also, near-shore lighting can cause sea turtle hatchlings to become disoriented when they are born. Instead, they will wander inland where they often die of dehydration, predation, or even from being run over on busy coastal streets. Learn more about Lightning McQueen's Cause.

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Lightning McQueen
Adult Harvest for Meat Consumption

Although sea turtles have spiritual or mythological importance in many cultures around the world, this has not prevented humans from consuming their meat. In many coastal communities, especially in Central America and Asia, sea turtles provided a source of food. During the nesting season, turtle hunters comb the beaches at night looking for nesting females. Often, they will wait until the female has deposited her eggs to kill her. Then, they take both the eggs and the meat. Additionally, people may use other parts of the turtle for products, including the oil, cartilage, skin and shell. Learn more about Odessa's Cause.

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Climate Change

Because sea turtles use both marine and terrestrial habits during their life cycles, the affects of climate change are likely to have a devastating impact on these endangered species. Climate change affects nesting beaches. With melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, beaches are starting to disappear. As the water level begins to rise, the size of nesting beaches decrease. Stronger storms, predicted as a result of increasing temperatures, will continue to erode coastal habitats. Higher temperatures can adversely affect sea turtle gender ratio. Increasing incubation temperatures could result in more female sea turtles, which reduces reproductive opportunities and decreases genetic diversity. Learn more about Adele's and Ian's Cause.

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Adele & Ian
Commercial Trawl Fisheries

Each year hundreds of thousands of adult and immature sea turtles are accidentally captured in fisheries ranging from highly mechanized operations to small-scale fishermen around the world. Global estimates of annual capture, injury and mortality are staggering — 150,000 turtles of all species killed in shrimp trawls and large numbers of all species drowned in gill nets. The extent of gill net mortality is unknown, but sea turtle capture is significant where studied, and the drowning of sea turtles in gill nets may be comparable to trawl and longline mortality. Deaths in gill nets are particularly hard to quantify because these nets are set by uncounted numbers of local fishermen in tropical waters around the world. Learn more about Rapunzel's Cause.

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Coastal Armoring

Sea turtle nesting beaches everywhere have been substantially altered by urbanization and development. To protect this prime real estate, many coastal property owners have built armoring structures such as seawalls, rock revetments and sandbags structures to help protect their property from natural erosion. These man-made structures threaten sea turtles nesting habitat by interrupt the natural nesting process through a reduction of nesting habitat and displacement of turtles to less optimal nesting areas. Florida's beaches, for example, host approximately 90% of all the sea turtle nesting in the U.S. But sadly, over 40% of Florida's beaches are classified as critically eroding due to changes in the natural landscape of these beaches. Learn more about Mayorita's Cause.

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Oil Spills

Marine pollution can have serious impacts on both sea turtles and the food they eat. New research suggests that a disease now killing many sea turtles (fibropapillomas) may be linked to pollution in the oceans and in near-shore waters. When pollution enters the water, it contaminates and kills aquatic plant and animal life that is often food for sea turtles. Oil spills, urban runoff from chemicals, fertilizers and petroleum all contribute to water pollution. Because the ocean is so large, many incorrectly assume that pollutants will be diluted and dispersed to safe levels, but in reality, the toxins released from these pollutants become more concentrated as they break down in size. As a result, these smaller, more toxic particles become food for many links in the food chain, including sea turtles. Learn more about Squirt's Cause.

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Egg Harvest for Consumption

A similar threat to the harvest for meat consumption, the harvest of eggs for consumption is also conducted in many cultures around the world, especially in Central America. During the nesting season, turtle hunters comb the beaches at night looking for nesting females. Egg hunters either try to encounter females deposited her eggs or look ofr fresh nests in the early morning hours. Most eggs collected are then sold, rather than consumed by the egg poacher. Learn more about Shelle's Cause.

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Illegal Sea Turtle Shell Trade

Hawksbill sea turtles, recognized for their beautiful gold and brown shells, have been hunted for centuries to create jewelry and other luxury items. As a result, these turtles are now listed as critically endangered. Scientists estimate that hawksbill populations have declined by 90 percent 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 any sea turtle products in the U.S., as in many countries around the world, is strictly prohibited by law. Learn more about Coral's Cause.

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Native Species Predation

Sea turtles face a wide variety of threats to their survival, most of which are caused by humans. But, even naturally occurring, or native, predators. They include raccoons, crabs, sharks, birds and coyotes. These animals, like dogs and cats easily prey on young hatchlings after they emerge from the nest. In many areas, trash left behind by humans encourages inland animals to migrate to beaches for food, further increasing sea turtle predators. Raccoon predation is actually the single greatest cause of sea turtle egg mortality in Florida. Learn more about Journey's Cause.

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Beach Renourishment

Beach renourishment consists of dredging and digging up sand from offshore or from inland sand deposits and pumping, trucking or otherwise depositing sand on a beach to replace what has been lost to erosion. While beach renourishment is almost always preferable to coastal armoring, it can negatively impact sea turtles in a number of ways. If the sand is too compacted for turtles to dig in or if the sand imported is significantly different (different color or sand grain size or if there is too much clay or gravel in the sand) from native beach sediments, it can negatively affect nest-site selection, digging behavior, incubation temperature and the moisture content of nests. If renourishment is allowed to proceed during nesting season, nests can also be buried far beneath the surface or run over by heavy machinery. In addition, a very flat and wide beach can cause turtles to nest lower on the beach and too close to the water where they can be covered or washed out during high tides and storms. Learn more about Paradise's Cause.

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