There are seven species of sea turtles currently residing on the planet, species which have been around for more than 100 million years. However, all of the species are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature on their Red List for being endangered, a number of them are listed as critically so. The leatherback sea turtle is one of the species which is regarded as critically endangered.
Leatherback sea turtles differ from their fellow sea turtles in that they lack the bony shell considered a key element for any turtle. Leatherback turtles are also the largest species of sea turtle and overall one of the world’s largest reptiles as they can weigh upwards of 2,000 pounds and be greater than seven feet in length. However, these huge reptiles are facing increasing difficulty for just mere survival, largely due to human activity.
All sea turtles are threatened due to a number of human activities, including ocean pollution. In addition, fishing globally has brought down sea turtle populations largely due to sea turtles being accidental bycatch and drowning in nets. Studies have found that it is likely that millions of sea turtles have perished due to fishing activities globally. Another major obstacle for sea turtle survival is that people in many regions of the globe collect and consume sea turtle eggs, with them often being considered a delicacy. However, the consumption of the eggs has caused many local populations around the globe to decline or disappear altogether.
Due to predation and the overall struggles to survive as a young sea turtle hatchling, it is estimated that less than one percent of eggs actually hatch and survive to adulthood. However, after a recent event killed thousands of hatchlings on the island of Trinidad, conservationists fear it could impact the species overall and put even greater odds against survival. Trinidad is home to one of the most popular beaches for leatherback sea turtles to lay their eggs, which made the event all the more concerning.
Currently workers are attempting to divert a river on Trinidad, largely due to erosion of the surrounding area. However, it has been reported by conservation groups in the area that a bulldozer was used in the incorrect area and has subsequently caused the deaths of approximately 20,000 hatchlings. Environmental groups were able to rescue approximately 500 hatchlings, but the damage had largely been done.