Sea turtles are part of two vital ecosystems, beaches and marine systems. If sea turtles become extinct, both the marine and beach ecosystems will weaken. And since humans use the ocean as an important source for food and use beaches for many kinds of activities, weakness in these ecosystems would have harmful effects on humans.
Though sea turtles have been living and thriving in the world’s oceans for 150 million years, they are now in danger of extinction largely because of changes brought about by humans. If we alter the oceans and beaches enough to wipe out sea turtles, will those changes make it difficult for us to survive? And if we choose to do what’s necessary to save sea turtles, might we save our own future?
Beaches and dune systems do not get very many nutrients during the year, so very little vegetation grows on the dunes and no vegetation grows on the beach itself. This is because sand does not hold nutrients very well. Sea turtles use beaches and the lower dunes to nest and lay their eggs. Sea turtles lay around 100 eggs in a nest and lay between 3 and 7 nests during the summer nesting season. Not every nest will hatch, not every egg in a nest will hatch, and not all of the hatchlings in a nest will make it out of the nest. All the unhatched nests, eggs and trapped hatchlings are very good sources of nutrients for the dune vegetation. Even the left-over egg shells from hatched eggs provide nutrients.