Green turtles

Green turtle populations in the East Atlantic are left with no choice but to feed in waters exposed to oil spills, which can lead to serious health issues such as liver, kidney and brain damage.

© WWF-Malaysia / Mazidi Abd Ghani
The green turtle is among the best recognized of all sea turtle species. It has gained popularity in modern cultures around the world, with their images appearing regularly in magazines, books, tourism brochures and even merchandise! Once viewed mainly as a resource to be exploited for its meat and eggs, the green turtle today holds the limelight in the global conservation movement.

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© / Visuals Unlimited / WWF


Once found in abundance across oceans, the green turtle population is on the decline. Although the number of individuals are still high, they are facing increasing threats such as habitat degradation, illegal trade of meat and shell, exploitation of eggs, incidental bycatch in fishing activities, climate change and water pollution. Particularly in the waters of the eastern Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, green turtles are severely impacted by the effects of oil exploration such as oil spills and pollution.

What you can do

WWF is calling on governments and companies to stop oil exploration activities in oceans that are home to iconic marine species. We want to build public support in making our voice heard and create a movement in support of the green turtle and other such endangered species, which are being directly impacted by fossil fuel extraction. Pledge your support to the Seize Your Power campaign, and let the governments and oil companies know, you do not want energy at the cost of losing the green turtle.

Impact of oil spills

Unlike other marine mammals and reptiles, it has been observed that green turtles do not avoid oiled waters. Despite increased pollution in their feeding grounds, they continue to feed contaminated seagrass and algae from regions exposed to oil spills. This can severely impact the health of the species, leading to damage of the liver, kidney and brain. Inhalation of volatile petroleum compounds or dispersants cause irritation and injury to the respiratory tract, which can lead to inflammation or pneumonia. Ingestion of petroleum compounds causes injury to the gastrointestinal tract and affects the animal’s ability to digest food. In the long run, exposure to such pollutants lowers reproductive success and therefore threatens survival. Impacts of oil spill and pollution on nesting beaches leads to decreased survival of hatchings and developmental defects.
	© Andrew Nekrasov / WWF
© Andrew Nekrasov / WWF

Protecting marine turtles

WWF works to protect marine turtles throughout the world by:
  • Protecting critical nesting and feeding sites
  • Reducing bycatch by working with fishermen to find solutions, such as alternative fishing gear (circle hooks and TEDs for example)
  • By working with authorities and coastal communities to reduce poaching and illegal trade
  • Addressing the impacts of climate change.
	© Roger Leguen / WWF
© Roger Leguen / WWF
Green turtles at risk rel=
Green turtles at risk

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