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Although the we have decided that sea turtle poaching is illegal, many cultures in Central America and Asia have depended on sea turtle eggs as a food source for centuries. It's becoming a problem because while some parts of the world are working to help the sea turtle population, others like the people in Central America and Asia are still poaching sea turtles for their meat, eggs, and shells. It's a difficult situation to deal with because many cultures have been doing this for years and think we have no right to tell them to stop.
The Siti Khadijah Market in Kota Bharu, Malaysia is one of the most popular markets in that area selling anything from vegetables to fish, meats, spices and yes, turtle eggs. Green sea turtles are hunted and killed for their eggs which has moved them to the endangered species list. Despite being so heavily protected, they are still killed for their eggs. Sea turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in some places and common everyday food in other places. Poachers raid turtle nests and then distribute and sell the eggs to markets like the Sitit Khadija.
Since about 1978, the number of nesting sea turtle females has gone up significantly. There is even a case in 2011 where the number of nesting females reached almost 900. Scientists see these numbers and have hope that the sea turtle population can move out of being an endangered species but poachers see these numbers and see a greater profit for their illegal trade.
Sea turtles also face the same threats that any other species do like pollution and habitat destruction. They see the plastic bags that end up in the ocean as jellyfish and will eat them and die because their bodies cannot process the plastic. Their feeding grounds have been destroyed by unsustainable fishing methods and by the change in climate.
Harvesting of sea turtles is very unsustainable and can have damaging effects on the ocean sea floor. When sea turtles are harvested, they are in restricted area and aren't allowed to move freely, this keeps them from doing the natural maintenance of the of the sea floor. By hunting these animals, poachers are damaging the underwater ecosystem.
There are also poachers that kill sea turtles for their shells. Sea turtle shells are used in many ceremonial practices in Japan in which they make fine jewelry and other crafts from the shell. Despite laws protecting sea turtles, illegal shell trade continues to thin the sea turtle population even further.
SUMMARY: The Cayman Turtle Centre is a very popular tourist center and is used for farming the endangered sea turtles. The center is receiving a lot of backlash from organizations like the World Animal Protection in London because they are suspected of only breeding the turtles for their meat. IMPACTS: Due to overcrowding and stress, the sea turtles have begun cannibalizing each other. This changes the way they grow naturally and can have permanent consequences. CAUSES: The center is a very popular tourist stop and about 70 percent of the 200,000 people that visit every year, come from cruises. These cruise ships are promoting the very inhuman and unsustainable centre without even knowing it.
SUMMARY: A man in Florida, Glenn Shaw, was arrested and charged with a their-degree felony for stealing 107 sea turtle eggs. Although he didn't tell the authorities what planned to do with the eggs, it was clear that he was going to sell them in the black market, which would've earned him $3 to $5 per egg. Since the EPA was established in 1970, making it illegal to poach sea turtles, there have been 42 documented arrests for sea turtle poaching in Florida. IMPACTS: Sea turtle poaching is very unsustainable for the environment because they play a role in their surrounding environment and as we kill them off, we also kill off the other species in their environment. There have been about 5,000 cases of illegal sea turtle killings since 1994 and if we continue to kill them in these numbers, they will move from being an endanger species, to an extinct species. CAUSES: Since sea turtles are endangered, buying eggs can be very pricey but are in turn very profitable for the poachers. The money that they bring in from selling the eggs is why so many people risk imprisonment and fines.
Fake sea turtle eggs have been made to get caught along with real eggs to track the poachers. By the information they get from the GPS eggs, they can map out the trade routes that have been used to trade sea turtle eggs illegally for years.
There are of course, more conventional solutions that have already been put in place like the Endangered Species Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and many conservation communities like the World Conservation Union.
Sea turtles have become at risk of being extinct due to illegal poaching, cultural traditions, and many other damaging factors. They need to be even further protected because despite many efforts to save the sea turtles, we see the population thinning more and more each year.