Carl Safina: Reader Mailbag

Carl's Blue Ocean
While fighting to save a beach on Cape Cod Bay, I read Carl's book and became more determined to stake my claim, and do my part to overcome the odds and improve life here where I live. Individual actions can make a difference, and win approval.

-- Posted by Tom on August 11, 2005
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Re: What can be done?
Hi Jon:

The leatherback turtles' problems happen during each stage of their life. Poaching on beaches, loss of quality beach habitat due to erosion and development, lighting that disorients turtle hatchlings, longline fishing, gillnet fishing, getting tangled in floating debris such as ropes and lost nets. Then there is natural mortality from predators of nests, hatchlings and occasionally larger turtles. Even some "natural" mortality is unnatural; for instance vultures and raccoons are more abundant because of people, and these animals prey on nests and nestlings.

Governments in many countries including Mexico have been trying to deal with these threats. In Mexico, poaching of nests is acute, and the government has been attempting to protect more and more beaches, with some success. An estimated 50-75% of nests receive protection in Mexico now. Most of the rest are poached. The US government has provided various kinds of help to scientists and conservation workers in other countries. Poverty is one of the root causes that must be dealt with.

Much progress has been made, much work remains.

-- Posted by Carl on April 6, 2004
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What can be done?
Is the major problem for the leatherback in the ocean today or on the beaches? I know things are being done to protect them from ocean problems such as requiring Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on shrimp boats and in some places ceasing the use of long-line fishing, but what is being done in Mexico particularly, to protect them from poachers? Is there a concerted effort by the Mexican government to stop this decimation?

What kind of protection from these poachers do researchers and volunteers have in order to help them maintain a piece of our biological diversity?

Can the US put pressure on the Mexican government to first stop the poaching, then educate the public, and also give them alternatives to make a living?

I know that I have more questions than comments, but we need to get the word out to the masses and let the world know what it we are facing. As goes the biodiversity in this world, so go we.

-- Posted by Jon on April 3rd, 2004
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Leatherback pictures
Here's a BBC site about leatherbacks with some lovely images. It's strange how a marine creature can seem enormous and delicate at once.

-- Posted by Scott on March 22, 2004
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This is an intriguing way to think about sea turtles — a bit like mammals, a bit like ancient reptiles. I only hope the leatherbacks don't suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs, surviving only as plush toys and Spielberg-movie villains.

-- Posted by Daniel on March 22, 2004
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