Why are Marine Turtles on the Edge of Extinction?

Poaching, destructive fishing practices, climate change, and more...

Marine turtles travel freely across the maritime borders of many nations, and face a wide range of threats. Mortality from these threats, at all stages of marine turtles' life-cycles, means that many populations cannot recover from the sustained pressure on their numbers.
Threats include over-consumption of turtle meat and eggs, illegal trade in turtles and turtle products, destruction of nesting beaches and nearshore habitats through inappropriate coastal development and perhaps most importantly, frighteningly high levels of capture in modern industrial fishing gears.

Climate Change & its consequences - a growing threat
Warmer temperatures shift the gender ratio of hatchlings, and rising sea levels will inundate nesting beaches. Monitoring has revealed dramatic declines in marine turtle populations over the last 20 years across much of South East Asia and the Pacific.

Today there are estimated to be as few as 2,300 adult nesting leatherback females across the entire Pacific Ocean. Close to 2,000 nesting leatherback females were tagged in Terengganu, Malaysia, in 1970, while only nine returned to nest in 1999, and this number is now down to only one or two a year.

Nesting populations of Eastern Pacific leatherback turtles have dropped by 90% in the last 20 years.

Leatherback turtle laying eggs, Rantau Abang, Terengganu, Malaysia. / ©: WWF-Malaysia / S. Hogg
Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) laying eggs, Rantau Abang, Terengganu, Malaysia.
© WWF-Malaysia / S. Hogg

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