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Our Project

Protecting sea turtles is essential to maintaining healthy marine ecosystems, preserving biodiversity, supporting local economies and upholding cultural heritage. By ensuring the survival of sea turtles, we contribute to the overall health and sustainability of our oceans and the planet.

Why is it important to
protect sea turtles?

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Balance

Sea turtles are an essential part of marine ecosystems. They help maintain biodiversity by contributing to the balance of various marine species. Both as predators and prey, they regulate the populations of jellyfish, seagrass and sponge species, which helps maintain the health and diversity of marine life. 

Keystone Species

Sea turtles are considered a “keystone species” because their presence or absence significantly affect the overall structure and function of the ecosystem. Protecting sea turtles also means protecting their habitat which benefits many other species with whom they share it.

Beach Ecosystems

Sea turtles play a crucial role in beach ecosystems. When female sea turtles come ashore to nest, they deposit eggs that serve as a source of nutrients for dune vegetation, which stabilizes the coastline and protects against erosion.

Cultural and Spiritual Significance

Sea turtles hold significant cultural and spiritual value for many communities around the world. They are often viewed as symbols of longevity, wisdom, guardians and fertility. By protecting sea turtles, we also help to preserve cultural heritage and traditions.

Climate Change Resilience

Sea turtles are affected by climate change, particularly rising sea levels and changing ocean temperatures. By safeguarding their habitats and populations, we contribute to overall ecosystem resilience and adaptation to climate change

Scientific Research and Education

Sea turtles are valuable subjects for scientific research. Studying their behavior, migratory patterns and biology can provide essential insights into marine ecosystems and broader ecological processes. 

International and National Agreements

Several countries have signed international agreements and conventions aimed at protecting sea turtles, such as the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC). Protecting sea turtles is an agreed-on international commitment.

A peculiar kind
of species

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Ancient Lineage

Sea turtles have been around for a very long time, with fossil evidence dating back more than 100 million years. They are often referred to as “living fossils” due to their ancient lineage and minimal changes in their basic body structure.

Shell Protection

One of the most distinctive features of sea turtles is their hard, bony shell, known as carapace, which acts as a protective covering for their bodies. 

Long distance Migrations

Sea turtles are remarkable navigators and undertake long-distance migrations between feeding and nesting grounds, often across thousands of kilometers

Navigating by Earth’s Magnetic Field

Research suggests that sea turtles can detect the Earth’s magnetic field and use it as a navigational tool during their migrations. This remarkable ability helps them find their way back to their nesting beaches even after spending years in the open ocean.

Feeding Habits

The diet of sea turtles varies among species, but they primarily feed on marine plants (seagrass and algae), jellyfish and other invertebrates.

Temperature-Dependent
Sex determination

Sea turtles embryos’ sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. Warmer temperatures tend to produce more females, while cooler temperatures produce more males. Climate change and rising temperatures could potentially skew the sex ratios of sea turtle populations, affecting their long term survival.

Threatened with Extinction?

Yes, sea turtles are among the world's endangered species.

Out of 1000 turtles born, only 1 manages to reach maturity.

In addition to natural predators, human actions have caused numerous challenges and threats that have significantly impacted sea turtle populations worldwide...

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Habitat Destruction

Coastal development, pollution, and beach erosion have led to the loss and degradation of nesting beaches for sea turtles. With fewer suitable nesting sites, their ability to lay eggs and hatch successful clutches is compromised.

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Bycatch

Along with entanglement, sea turtles face the risk of being caught as bycatch in fishing operations targeting other species. They often drown in fishing gear designed for catching fish and other marine creatures.

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Climate Change

 The warming of sands can skew the sex ratios of hatchlings, due to the temperature-dependent sex determination, leading to an imbalance in the population. Additionally, climate change is causing sea level rise, which threatens low-lying nesting sites.

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Pollution

Marine pollution, especially plastic debris, poses a severe threat to sea turtles. They may mistake plastic bags and other litter for jellyfish and ingest the harmful debris, which can lead to injury, blockage, or death.

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Entanglement in Fishing Gear

Sea turtles become entangled in fishing nets and other gear, leading to injury and death. This is particularly common in trawl and gillnet fisheries. 

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Overharvesting

Historically, sea turtles were hunted for their meat, eggs, and shells, significantly reducing their populations. Though hunting is now illegal in many places, it still occurs in some regions.

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Predation

Eggs and hatchlings are vulnerable to predation by various animals, including crabs, birds, and mammals. Human activities can disrupt natural predation patterns.

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Artificial Lighting

Artificial lights on beaches disorient nesting females and hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean or towards dangerous areas instead of the water.

Tartaru’s mission

Our mission is to protect the species of turtles that arrive at the Peninsula de Marau.

Out of the 7 species of sea turtles present around the world, 4 are found here...

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Loggerhead Turtles
 
(Caretta Caretta)

Loggerhead turtles are named after their large head and strong jaw which allows them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as crabs and mollusks. They can be found in temperate and tropical waters across the globe.

Hawksbill Turtles
 
(Eretmochelys imbricata)

Hawksbill turtles are named after their distinctively shaped beak, which resembles that of a bird of prey. They primarily feed on sponges and are important for coral reef health.

Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Olive-ridley turtles are named for their olive-colored carapace. This species is the smallest and most abundant one found in Brazil. 

Green Turtles
 
(Chelonia mydas)

Green turtles are one of the largest species of sea turtles and get their name from the green color of their blubber. They are mainly herbivorous, feeding on seagrass and algae.

Taking action

The Tartaru team intensely monitors the spawning area during the breeding season, which runs from September to March.

The work consists of daily observation of the 22 km of beach to collect the scientific data required by the ICMBio (Instituto Chico Mendes), including: the number of nests found, the number of nests with damage or disturbance, the number of lost turtles, the number of eggs within each nest, the recognition of the species, the georeferencing (GPS), the identification of existing threats, and the management and protection of the eggs to ensure a maximum survival of the hatchlings until they arrive to the ocean.

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