Researchers are happy to report a slow increase in the number of the endangered green sea turtle. The turtle has officially been on the endangered species lists since 1982 but their numbers were dwindling for many years prior to that distinction. Luckily because the plight of the turtle came to light, their numbers have been on the rise over the last 25 to 30 years. Research complied by the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography shows a 4 to 14% increase each year in the number of live births. The December issues also says that in 1980 the turtle was all but extinct but once the turtle was placed on the endangered species list the numbers began increasing almost immediately.
The green sea turtle is a majestic swimmer. They can get to be almost 300 pounds and grow to be about 3 feet long. The rise in the numbers isn’t just good news for the animal, but for their habitat as well. Green sea turtle inhabit the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They are largely responsible for balancing the sea grass ecosystem, so their rise in numbers means good news for the oceans. The initial decline in the numbers is blamed on the high demand for turtle meat mostly, but also for their beautiful shells and eggs that are sold in tourist areas. In the hopes the populations could once again flourish, scientists from six major nesting sites in Japan, Hawaii, Australia, Costa Rica and Florida worked to analyze how many females had returned to lay eggs at their respective sites over the past 25 to 30 years. Interestingly, at one rookery at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the increase in population has begun to flatten. This is a sign that the numbers have reached their maximum for the area. Now scientists are beginning to think the numbers of these sea turtles is nearing the tens of millions.