Marine turtles | WWF
© WWF-Pakistan

Marine turtles

For more than 100 million years marine turtles have covered vast distances across the world's oceans, performing a vital and integral role in marine and coastal ecosystems. Over the last 200 years human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Urgent global action is needed to ensure their future.

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"Pakistan's beaches are nesting ground for green turtles. "

Key Facts
Common name
Common Name

Marine turtles; Tortues marines (Fr); Tortugas marinas (Sp)

Geographic place

Habitat

Open water and coasts

Latin name

Scientific Name

Cheloniidae / Dermochelyidae families

Endangered

Status

Endangered to Critically Endangered

Three of the seven existing species of marine turtle are critically endangered

All 7 species of marine turtles are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 3 are classified as critically endangered by IUCN and a further 3 are classified as endangered.

Many offspring, few survivors

Marine turtles appear to have the potential to reproduce abundantly: females can lay hundreds of eggs in one nesting season. But even under "natural" conditions, relatively few young turtles survive their first year of life.

Predators such as crabs, foxes, and birds often kill the hatchlings as they make their way from the nest to the sea, and when they reach the shallows, many more small turtles are taken by fish.

When humans harvest turtle eggs, disturb or degrade nesting beaches, the scales become tipped even more heavily against young turtles.
What are the main threats?
Habitat loss, degradation, pollution, ghost nets and bycatch are some of the major threats for marine turtles. The uncontrolled development has led directly to the destruction of critically important nesting beaches and feeding habitats. Hunting and poaching for meat, eggs, calipee, and leather has also significantly affected their population globally but in Pakistan, plastic pollution is the major threat to the marine turtles. Turtles mostly mistakenly ingest plastic bags, which is fatal to their survival. Ghost nets (abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear) are equally threatening. 
These not only become an obstacle that has a negative impact on the nesting activity and hatchling survival rate but also causes entanglement of the marine turtles in coastal and oceanic waters. Furthermore, marine turtles are accidently caught as the bycatch by fishing techniques and operations such as gillnet, trawling and longline. Global warming is also a threat to marine turtles as they have temperature-dependent sex determination to balance their populations.
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What is WWF doing?

We have been working to improve the population of marine turtles globally, but particularly in coastal areas of Pakistan. Through various projects and interventions, we have been establishing and strengthening protected areas around nesting beaches.

One of our major focuses is on halting the illegal trade or turtle meat and eggs through TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade-monitoring arm of WWF and IUCN. Our teams are also focusing on raising awareness and promoting ecotourism at marine turtle sites, so that local communities become involved in and benefit from protecting turtles and their nests.
 
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WWF-Pakistan trained fisherman release olive ridley turtle
© WWF-Pakistan