Our Planet, the incredible new documentary series narrated by Sir David Attenborough, explores the wonderful hidden lives of marine turtles, as well as the dangers these largely solitary animals face. Here are 10 facts everyone should know about these ancient sea-farers and how we’re working to protect them.
Turtles face many threats
Getting accidentally caught in fishing gear is probably the biggest threat to marine turtles. It’s also estimated that more than 50% of marine turtles have ingested plastic or other human rubbish - often mistaking it for food such as jellyfish. Plastic washed up on beaches can also limit space for nesting and block tiny hatchlings’ paths to the ocean.
Turtle habitats are being destroyed and put under threat. For example, 50% of the world's coral reefs have been lost and the rest could disappear completely by 2050 if climate change remains unchecked.
Climate change can increase sand temperature (higher temperatures produce more females than males, skewing sex ratios), cause sea level rise (which can flood nests), and can mean an increase in storm events, which will affect hatchling survival.
Photo credit: Loggerhead turtle trapped in a drifting abandoned net, Mediterranean Sea © naturepl.com / Jordi Chias / WWF
What are we doing?
WWF works on many aspects of marine turtle conservation, including reducing the loss and degradation of habitats, reducing bycatch (by encouraging fisherfolk to use alternative hooks and turtle “escape hatches” in trawl nets) and reducing the illegal trade in marine turtle products.
We can all play our part to reduce our plastic use, increase recycling and clean up our plastic pollution. And we can all work together to fight devastating climate change, which is affecting both people and wildlife.