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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Say Goodbye to Leatherback Turtles

The leatherback turtle is on the way; so, book a ticket, go to some exotic beach, find one (if you can), and take a picture hugging it. At least then, you'll have a tall tale to tell your great-grandchildren about the monsters of the deep that were wiped out in the 21st Century. I wonder, what will you say when they ask you why? Will you tell them that it was because of all those seafood meals you had? They may even get angry at you for leaving them a world of protein pills, concrete and the never-ending war on terror. History's condemnation of us will be harsh. Back to the the turtles:

The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the largest living species of sea turtle, is said to be in grave danger in Pacific waters. Turtles are among the world's creatures that survived the dinosaur age.

It could be the first of the turtle species to disappear from this part of the world unless remedial action is taken, says Penina Solomona, the Regional Marine Officer with the WWF South Pacific Programme...

...Asked if turtles were similarly threatened Morley said: "Absolutely. Once a species fall below a certain population size, they can fall into what we call an extinction vortex -- driven by things like loss of genetic diversity (which increases the likelihood for disease and genetic inbreeding), demographic imbalances (more of one sex than another), the allee affect (when they can't find reproductive partners), and they are more prone to environmental stochasticity (floods, droughts etc)...

...While several species of sea turtle are taken for food, the giant leatherback turtle is said to be the most threatened as they are accidentally caught and killed in long line fisheries. It is currently identified as 'critically endangered' and many scientists fear that unless threats to these animals are negated, they could suffer the same fate as the white dolphins.

"At the current rate of decline, there will definitely be a point in time when turtles will no longer exist," said Penina.

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