Group of a shelled marine reptiles, sea turtles are one of the most ancient creatures on our planet. There are seven species divided into some thirteen known families of sea turtles: Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Olive Ridley, Leather back, Logger head and Australian Flatback. The creature is surviving under constant threats since million of years. But they are listed as endangered and are at the verge of extinction.
Sea turtles are found in warm and temperate waters throughout the world. They migrate hundreds of miles for nesting and feeding grounds. Their migration from sea to the same beach for laying eggs or beach-to-beach is a curious phenomenon that is still not well known to the scientists.
Sea turtles are creatures of the oceans but they depend on land for reproduction. Female turtles crawl painstakingly to the shores where they dig nests and lay eggs on peaceful sandy beaches. Eggs count is from 50 to 150 per turtle every few years. Hobbyists watch turtles when they come to the shore to lay eggs. The heat of the sand incubates the eggs and they develop without any help from parent turtles. Roughly six to eight weeks later, tiny turtles emerge from the nest and dart towards the water. Young sea turtles swim towards deepwater where they shelter, feed and grow. Life cycle goes on and on.
During their early life stages, baby sea turtles are highly vulnerable and most do not reach adulthood. The length of time required to reach maturity and the many natural dangers they face when young, means that “as few as one in 1,000 will survive to adulthood,” as per estimates.
The young turtles develop specialized feeding habits that vary between species. Sea turtles eat jellyfish, seaweed, crabs, shrimp, snails, algae and mollusks. After decades when they become adults, do the turtles return to the beach again in order to lay their own eggs? After nesting the first time, marine turtles may return to the same nesting beach to lay eggs every couple of years for over two decades.
Turtles are large animals. Leather back can attain a length of two meters and a weight of over 500 kilograms. Marine turtles live under different threat all their life. They threatened with capture for commercial use, harvesting of eggs, destruction of nesting beaches, ocean pollution, oil spills and entanglement in fishing and shrimp nets. They also choke to death when they eat some plastic item, which they mistake as an eatable sometime. Extensive development along the coastal areas has led directly to the destruction of critically important marine turtle nesting beaches. Interestingly, all sea turtles are protected by the international law.
Pakistan has long been known to support a large population of turtles. Four species found in Pakistani waters are Green, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and the Logger headed turtles. Two species of turtles nest on the Pakistani coast, the Green and the Olive ridley turtle. There are evidences that Pakistani coasts hold significant numbers of sea turtles. Along much of the beach, nest pits, typically separated by a few meters or more and frequently running into each other can be seen.
At least 95 percent of the coast which off the beaten track and is mostly difficult to access is considered suitable turtle habitat.
All of us should be careful and careful to save this curious creature from extinction.