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Article: Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

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Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

This week, over 300 endangered olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) were found dead, after becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets. Female ridleys make their way to the pacific coastal beaches of Mexico between May to November where they lay their eggs – it is likely that this is where these turtles were heading. Olive ridley turtles are on the IUCN Red List of threatened species as vulnerable, and marine debris such as these ‘ghost nets’ are largely responsible for their population decline. Ghost nets are fishing nets which have been either irresponsibly discarded in the ocean or accidentally lost by fisherman. They are made of synthetic materials (usually nylon) and are nearly invisible in the water, especially in low light, posing a huge threat of entanglement for many larger marine species like turtles, sharks, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions), and non-target fish species. Animals caught in the nets are usually unable to breathe or feed and unfortunately either suffocate or starve to death. Dead animals caught in these nets also attract other predators to feed, who often also get caught and endure the same fate. The good news is there are some awesome initiatives removing fishing gear, finding local solutions, influencing policy, and teaching people more about this important issue – see We’ve got a long way to go before we stop this at the source, but here’s hoping

Words by Bella Voulgaris