• Mercury: From Source to Seafood

    Learn more about doctors and groups that address mercury poisoning (Got Mercury does not imply any implicit or explicit endorsement) How Does mercury Enter

  • Brain Neuron Degeneration via Mercury

    This video from the University of Calgary demonstrates the toxic effect methyl mercury has on neurons.  

  • Wild Oats Mercury in Seafood Sign

    Wild Oats took a leadership role on mercury in seafood issues by voluntarily posting this mercury sign at seafood counters in all of their

  • Hawaii Mercury in Seafood Brochure

    Mercury in Seafood Brochure from Hawaii Department of Health. Given to families on the WIC program. It warns women and children about mercury in

Fact Sheets

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    Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

    Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) are the smallest and most vulnerable species of sea turtle in the world (1,2). They weigh only 100 pounds at most in adulthood and get up to 2 feet long (1,3). Kemp’s ridleys have a limited habitat, nesting in just two countries in the Gulf of Mexico (3). This means that the Kemp’s ridley is particularly vulnerable to localized threats like commercial fishing, egg harvesting, and oil spills (1,2,3).

    A Lifetime of Turtlehood

     

    Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks via Wikimedia Commons

    Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks via Wikimedia Commons

    This tiny species makes a dramatic entrance come nesting season. Kemp’s ridley nest in ‘arribadas.’ Spanish for arrival, arribadas are a spectacle to witness. Wave upon wave of females come crashing ashore, laying their eggs in broad daylight unlike any other sea turtle in the world (1,4). From April to July, females will do this up to three times, burying approximately 100 eggs each time in freshly dug holes on beaches in Mexico, Texas, and Florida (1,2,3).

    Little hatchlings emerge from their holes in the sand after two months of incubation and head straight for the open ocean, eager to evade any near-shore predators that might be lurking (1). For the first two years of their lives, hatchlings ride the tides up and down the Atlantic coast, from as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Bermuda (1,2,4).

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    After two years of travelling the coast, adolescent Kemp’s ridleys return to the Gulf of Mexico (1,2). Here, they forage for swimming crabs and other hard foods, rarely diving deeper than 160 feet during their adult life. Some will migrate in search for food but, come adulthood, Kemp’s ridleys are not known to wander far (1).

    After ten years of living in the Gulf, Kemp’s ridleys reach sexual maturity. Like their parents before them, they return to important nesting sites in Mexico, Texas, and Florida to lay their eggs (1).

    Struggling to Survive

    Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are listed under the US Endangered Species Act and as IUCN Critically Endangered (2,3). They are more endangered than any other species of sea turtle (1). Slowly, though, Kemp’s ridley populations are recovering (1,2).

    Much of the initial decline in Kemp’s ridleys was due to direct harvesting of eggs and adult turtles. Most Kemp’s ridleys lay their eggs at the same time on a single stretch of beaches in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Their eggs are thus extremely concentrated, making them an easy target for harvest and costing their population tens of thousands of turtles in the early 1900s (4). Egg harvesting was made illegal in 1966, and this threat was significantly reduced (1,2).

    Kemp’s ridleys’ greatest threat is the commercial fishing industry. In particular, shrimp trawls have damaged their population quite dramatically by indiscriminately scooping up and jeopardizing the lives of everything in its path, including sea turtles. Fortunately, the shrimp industry is now required to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in both the U.S. and in Mexico. These devices allow sea turtles to escape through a hatch in the nets, and they have greatly reduced sea turtle mortality from shrimp fisherman (1,2). Still, sea turtles continue to get caught and die in shrimp trawl nets.

    Turtle Island volunteers helps untangle fishing line from a Kemp’s ridley.

    Turtle Island volunteers helps untangle fishing line from a Kemp’s ridley.

    Since the enactment of harvest and commercial fishing limitations, Kemp’s ridleys have been able to recover to a small extent. Current setbacks to their recovery include beach traffic and development. Development disturbs nesting beaches by introducing things like seawalls and sand renourishment projects that impact the sand on which sea turtles nest. Another consequence of development is beachfront lighting, which attracts young hatchlings away from the moonlit ocean and into roads (3).

    Pollution poses another serious threat to Kemp’s ridleys. Sea turtles have a hard time distinguishing plastic bags and other litter from food. When consumed, this litter becomes lodged in their digestive system and, eventually, will lead to death (3). Contaminants such as oil additionally impact Kemp’s ridleys. Following Deepwater Horizon, 600 sea turtles were found dead, 75% of which were Kemp’s ridleys (5).

    An oiled turtle waits to be cleaned after Deepwater Horizon.

    An oiled turtle waits to be cleaned after Deepwater Horizon.

    Learn more about how Turtle Island is addressing these threats. Find out How You Can Help Kemp’s ridleys and other endangered marine creatures.

    Sources

    1. (2015) Kemp’s Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). NOAA Fisheries. <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/kempsridley.html>
    2. North Florida Ecological Services Office (2015) Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. <https://www.fws.gov/northflorida/seaturtles/turtle%20factsheets/kemps-ridley-sea-turtle.htm>
    3. Conservation Commission (2012) Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). Florida Fish and Wildlife. <http://myfwc.com/media/2212153/Kemps-ridley-sea-turtle.pdf>
    4. Conservation Commission (1999) Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). Florida Fish and Wildlife. <http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=326026>
    5. (2014) 2010 Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill: Sea Turtles, Dolphins, And Whales. NOAA Fisheries. <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/oilspill/gulf2010.htm>

  • Photo Credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

    Loggerhead Sea Turtles

    Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) get their name from their enormous heads (1,3). Their bodies are similarly large, earning them the title of the largest hard-shelled sea turtle. This red-brown species typically grows up to 3.5 feet long and can weigh from 400 pounds to as much as 1,000 pounds (1).

    Loggerheads are listed as ‘Threatened’ under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Due to  commercial fishing and other activities, their populations are quickly dwindling towards endangerment (1,2,4).

    How They Live

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    Loggerhead sea turtle distribution. Photo Credit: NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons

    Female loggerheads produce and bury an average of 100 eggs each nesting season (1,5). They prefer subtropical and temperate waters in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. In the United States, loggerheads nest on the Atlantic Coast from Texas to New Jersey during the summer and early fall (2,3). To protect their eggs during incubation, nesting females dig large holes with a side chamber, where the eggs are laid and then buried (1).

    top-view-of-a-loggerhead-sea-turtle-nest

    Loggerheads dig a huge holes with chambers in which to lay their eggs. Photo Credit: Hillebrand Steve, USFWS

    During their two months of incubation, surrounding temperatures determine whether a hatchling will emerge a male or a female – warmer temperatures yield female hatchlings, while cooler temperatures yield males (1,5). Once the hatchlings emerge they follow the moonlight out to the ocean where they grow to adulthood feeding on both hard-shelled and soft-bodied prey. When female loggerheads reach 20 years old, they return to the beaches on which they were lain and begin the cycle anew (1).

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    Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons

    Why They’re Declining

    Loggerhead sea turtles are classified as a ‘Vulnerable’ species by the IUCN and listed as ‘Threatened’ by the EPA (1,2,4). Their populations are in continual decline (4).

    Incidental catch by industrial fishing operations is the primary cause of loggerhead decline worldwide. In the case of commercial shrimping, vessels targeting shrimp use large trawl nets. These nets indiscriminately scoop up everything in their path, including sea turtles. In the U.S., shrimp fishermen must use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). These devices allow sea turtles to escape through a hatch in the nets. This has reduced the threat caused by commercial fisheries, but not eliminated it (1,4).

    Another factor contributing to the loggerheads continual decline is the loss and destruction of nesting beaches. As human development encroaches further and further onto beaches and sea levels rise, the space left for loggerheads is slowly squeezed out (1,3,4,5). The habitat that is left is subject to heavy predation, by humans, natural predators, and introduced species. In some cases, raccoons have been known to destroy more than 95 percent of nests on a single beach (3).

    loggerhead_nesting_area

    Photo Credit: MoodyGroove at en.wikipedia

    Eggs that are fortunate enough to escape predation hatch, and face a host of new dangers. Light emitted from city glow, street lamps, and other exterior lighting disorients hatchlings that mistake it for the moonlit ocean. Disoriented, many loggerhead hatchlings head straight for the road (2,4). Hatchlings that make it to the ocean are forced to seek shelter from natural predators in pollutant-accumulating aquatic vegetation (5). Pollution will remain a threat throughout a loggerhead’s lifetime, as items such as balloons, plastics, and monofilament fishing line catch in their digestive system. Larger boating and fishing gear entanglement and boat strikes also pose serious threats to loggerhead sea turtles (1).

    Find out what you can do to protect loggerhead sea turtles and other marine animals by visiting the Action Center or reading about How You Can Help.

    Sources

    1. Biscayne National Park Florida (2013) Lights Out For Loggerheads. South Carolina DNR. <https://www.nps.gov/bisc/learn/nature/species-focus-loggerhead-sea-turtles.htm>.
    2. Marine Turtle Conservation Program (2013) Lights Out For Loggerheads. South Carolina DNR. <http://www.dnr.sc.gov/seaturtle/lights.htm>.
    3. Endangered Species Unit (2016) Loggerhead Sea Turtle Fact Sheet. NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. <http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7156.html>.
    4. Casale P, Tucked AD (2015) Caretta caretta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T3897A83157651 <http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3897/0>.
    5. Partymiller L (2016) Species Profile: Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta Caretta) | SREL Herpetology. UGA Savannah River Ecology Lab. <http://srelherp.uga.edu/turtles/carcar.htm>.

     

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    Climate Change & Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches Fact Sheet

    Climate change and the resulting sea level rise are threatening key sea turtle nesting beaches around the world. As all seven species of sea turtles are already under threat, loss of key nesting beaches could be detrimental to turtle populations if rapid action is not taken. Read our fact sheet to get the important details from our full report, ‘Deadly Waters: The Threat of Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels to Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches.’

    Climate Change: A Rising Tide

    The current pace of climate change will be faster than anything experienced in the last 10,000 years, and therefore is an unprecedented threat to sea turtles whose populations are already vulnerable from human activities. Specifically, climate change will cause a loss of nesting beaches and coastal habitat through rising sea levels, increased female gender bias in hatchlings, reduced hatching success from high temperatures and increased storm events, decreased or shifting food supply, and changing ocean currents impacting migration.

    Sea Turtle Nesting Behavior

    Sea turtles return to their birthplace to lay eggs, breed and nest. When mature, the female turtles return to their natal beaches to nest. This is problematic if these beaches disappear as a result of sea level rises.

    Key Facts

    1. Hawaiian sea turtles are at risk.
      • 90 percent of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) nest in Hawaii on the French Frigate Shoals, part of an atoll located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This area could disappear due to sea level rise.
    2. Loggerhead sea turtles could lose 43 percent of their nesting habitat in Florida, where more than 10,000 females nest each year. This percentage is based on a model that assumes half meter sea level rise within the next 20 to 50 years.
    3. Texas sea turtles are at risk.
      • Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is the second most important nesting site for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle in the world, and is vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels.
    4. Further research needs to be conducted to survey beach profiles and overlay that data with models of projected sea level rises and storm surges to identify the level of risk from climate change for olive ridley, hawksbill and flatback sea turtles.

    Recommendations

    • Ensure Major Nesting Beaches are Climate Resilient
    • Establish Second Nesting Colonies at Key Species Nesting Sites
    • Reduce Other Anthropogenic Threats to Sea Turtles at Priority Nesting Beaches
    • Document Potential Loss of Major Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches Worldwide
    • Reduce Climate Change Emissions to Bring Carbon Dioxide Levels Below 350 Parts Per Million

    Read the full report here: https://seaturtles.org/deadlywaters/   

  • Photo by Nestor Romero.

    Silky Shark Fact Sheet

    Common Name: Silky Shark

    Scientific name: Carcharhinus falciformis

    Global distribution:
    -One of the three most common pelagic sharks in the world, and most common shark in tropical pelagic fisheries.
    -Present in global tropical waters between latitudes 20° N and S.
    -Inhabits both oceanic and coastal habitat.

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    Facts About Silky Sharks:
    -Name comes from its smooth skin and slim body
    -Commonly reaches a length of 2.5 m (8.2 ft), with a maximum recorded length of 3.5 m (11 ft) and weight of 346 kg (763 lb)
    -An opportunistic predator, feeding on squid, tuna, mackerel, sardines, groupers, and snappers.

    Population Decline
    International consensus agrees on the precarious state of the population by overfishing, judging by the low in relative abundance and reducing size of specimens caught in fisheries where data exist.

    -Total annual catch reported to the Food and Agricultural Organization fell steadily from 11,680 tons in 2000 to 4,358 tons in 2004
    -Declines of some 90% in the central Pacific from the 1950s to the 1990s
    -60% decline off Costa Rica from 1991 to 2000
    -91% decline in the Gulf of Mexico from the 1950s to the 1990s
    -85% decline (for all large requiem sharks) in the northwestern Atlantic from 1986 to 2005
    -The silky shark fishery off Sri Lanka reported a drop from a peak catch of 25,400 tons in 1994 to only 1,960 tons in 2006

    IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable in the Eastern, Central, and Southeast Pacific, and Northwest and Western Central Atlantic. Near Threatened on a global scale.

    Convention on Migratory Species Status: Listed under Appendix II in November of 2014, and listed under Annex I of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Migratory Sharks in February 2016.

    Threats
    -Greatest numbers of silky sharks are caught incidentally by tuna and mahi mahi longline and purse seine fisheries throughout its range, particularly those using fish aggregating devices.
    -Most-caught species in longline fisheries in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, constituting up to 90% of the total catch of sharks.
    -Large numbers of silky sharks caught by commercial and artisanal multispecies shark fisheries operating off Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the United States, Ecuador, Spain, Portugal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Yemen, and Côte d’Ivoire.
    -Fins from an estimated 0.5 to 1.5 million silky sharks are traded globally per year; it is the second- or third-most common species auctioned on the Hong Kong fin market, which represents over half the global trade
    -The meat (sold fresh or dried and salted), skin, and liver oil may also be used
    -Predominant source of dried shark jaw curios sold to tourists in the tropics

    Recommended conservation actions
    -The IATTC should enact the recommendations of its Scientific Advisory Committee to reduce and limit the catch and implement 3-month fisheries closures
    -CITES should list the Silky Shark on Appendix II and trigger measurable action plans to reduce mortality and reverse population decline
    -Reduce fishing effort in the Eastern Tropical Pacific
    -Release sharks alive

    What you can do
    Sign our petition calling on the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to implement 3-month closures and improve gear types.

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For Kids & Classes

  • sea-turtle-on-beach-WEB

    Sea Turtle Ecology Course $19.95

    Graceful in the water, sea turtles glide through the ocean with the greatest of ease and trek to far away beaches to ensure continuation of their species.

    Through this fun online course you will investigate the history of these marine reptiles, both natural and anthropogenic threats to their survival, reproduction, and how they cope with the challenges they face. You will explore all seven living sea turtle species and by the end be able to identify them!

    Proceeds of sales benefit Turtle Island Restoration Network and our efforts to save sea turtles!

    Please click on the picture of the sea turtle below to purchase and participate in the online Sea Turtle Ecology course.

  • #savemarinscoho

    Join The Coho Photo Campaign!

    Join our Coho Photo Campaign!

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    Easy as 1,2,3…..

    1) Take a photo holding up a sign that says why you think it is important to protect coho.

    2) Upload your photo to social media and use the hashtag #SAVEMARINSCOHO

    3) Get your friends to join, and exponentially increase your impact!

    Below is the link to our sentence starter but feel free to make your own: PhotoCampaign_coho

    Please make sure to share it with us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/salmonprotection?fref=ts

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    Make Your Own Sea Turtle Costume!

    Materials:

    • 1 or 2 large cardboard box/cartons. I get these from appliance stores or bicycle shops
    • 8 1-2″ wide strips of fabric about 1-2 ft. long. I got fabric from a thrift shop, old sheets or bed spreads work well for this (try to find a color that is similar to your turtle).
    • Quart of exterior house paint (possibly some Z-prime for an undercoat depending on quality desired).
    • A heavy-duty stapler with 3/8″ staples. Stapler needs to be the long handled heavy duty type. Staples longer than 3/8″ tend to bend and come back through the cardboard creating a sharp, snagging hazard.

    Click here to download and view the full instructions.

    Sea Turtle Costumes in Action (pictured below):

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