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Marine turtles: Earth’s ancient mariners

Marine turtles have been navigating our oceans for millions of years – now some need our help to survive.

Sea turtles: earth's ancient mariners species:

Critically endangered (Around 30000 - 83000 remain) Eretmochelys imbricata

Affected by: Fisheries , Illegal wildlife trade , Climate change

Marine turtles have been in our oceans for over 100 million years. They’re brilliant navigators, swimming hundreds or thousands of kilometres between feeding and nesting grounds. But they face lots of threats along the way – so we’re doing all we can to help them.

Marine turtle population estimates (including those stated above) are based on the number of egg-laying females – we can’t be sure of the numbers of elusive sea-dwelling males, or females that aren’t breeding. But we do know at least six of the seven species are at risk of extinction.

Sea turtle, Diving in Daphne Menor, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

Where marine turtles live

Marine turtles are found in most of the world’s oceans, apart from cold polar seas. They tend to spend their lives in relatively shallow continental shelf waters.

Once mature, male turtles never leave the sea, but females come ashore to lay eggs – typically on the same sandy beach where they themselves hatched.

Why marine turtles are so important

They might not look like voracious killers, but some turtle species are actually important predators that help to keep ocean food chains healthy.

For example, hawksbill turtles eat lots of sea sponges, which would otherwise out-compete reef-building corals. So the turtles help to protect the coral reefs, which are crucial for the survival of many other creatures.

The leatherback turtle is a big eater of jellyfish, which helps stop jellyfish depleting fish stocks – which benefits other animals in the food chain, as well as people.

Adopt an animal now

Adopt a marine turtle and help support our work in Fiji. We’re identifying important nesting sites and working with local people to help protect those beaches and the marine turtles that use them.

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Green turtle hatchling breaking out of its egg