By Ana Zangroniz, Marine Conservation Student
One important issue in marine conservation lies with the preservation of a healthy sea turtle population. Of the seven species (Leatherback, Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemps Ridley, and Flatback), six are endangered or threatened. Besides the fact that these creatures are visually stunning, they play a crucial role in marine ecosystems, which can directly affect human beings and our livelihoods. For example, green sea turtles feed on seagrass. This grazing keeps seagrass beds healthy, helping maintain critical habitats for many life stages of scallops and mollusks that humans depend upon as a food source (Carroll et al. 2012, Nizinski 2007). Additionally, when female sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, beach ecosystems are enriched, as turtle eggs are a significant source of nutrients for plant life (Vander Zanden et al. 2012).