16 June 2015

Seven Sea Turtle Wonders

Artwork by Mike Yap

To develop an appreciation for something can take as little as a glimpse – an instant connection – or sometimes a profound amount of time to see the beauty within. In the life of James Spotila, a remarkable sea turtle biologist, it only took a sighting of a healthy leatherback about to lay its eggs to be held captivated by it forever. Such a moment held a big part of him, enough to commit his lifetime into studying these wonderful, often miraculous sea creatures.

Since World Sea Turtle Day, June 16, is especially dedicated to the 7 sea turtle species (Green turtle, Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Flatback) we have today, let us take the time to see how amazing and resilient they really are.

1. Did you know that sea turtles don’t have sex chromosomes? Instead, sex is determined by temperature at which eggs incubate. In the case of green turtles, at 28oC, hatchlings develop into males; at 31oC the hatchlings grow into females [1]. This has great implication in conservation [2].

2. The largest recorded leatherback turtle weighs nearly a ton [1]. With jellyfish as its main food, it’s kind of hard to imagine how much it has to eat to weigh that much.

3. Sea turtles have magnetite in their brains; they use it as their internal magnetic compass [1]. They don’t have the superpowers of Magneto but they are tuned to migrate thousands of miles in the ocean and get back to the beach were they hatched.

4. Different species bury their eggs in sand at varying depths. Don't worry the eggs have porous shells so they can breatheThe shallowest depth is observed for Olive ridley and Kemp’s rildey nests at 15 inches while the deepest is for leatherback eggs buried at 25 inches. The deeper it is, the more stable the temperature [2].

5. Sea turtles have to spend at least a decade or more in the open sea before going to back to mate and reproduce in their natal beach [1]. Imagine that they are already independent from the time that they were hatchlings, racing to the open sea. It only becomes tougher (and tougher) for the succeeding years as they have to avoid being captured in destructive shrimp trawls, longlines, and gillnets. What is more worrisome is their affinity to ingest plastics which they mistake for a sumptuous jellyfish.

6. Sea turtles are excellent divers and can prolong their breathing underwater for 45 minutes. The deepest dive a leatherback has bagged is 4250 m [3], beating that of a sperm whale at 3686 m [1].

7. They have survived the mass extinction which obliterated dinosaurs and so have lived for 110 million years now [1]. And it is of course in our hands to make certain that they get to be seen and conserved by the next generations.

The list of how beautiful sea turtles are goes on. Never cease to see and celebrate what’s amazing.

We have considerable information on the seven species of sea turtles. Feel free to visit us at SeaLifeBase, or become a collaborator. Happy World Sea Turtle Day!

[1] Spotila, J.R. (2004). Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to their Biology, Behavior and Conservation. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
[2] Spotila, J.R. (2011). Saving Sea Turtles. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
[3] OBIS Search Interface. http://www.iobis.org/mapper/ [Accessed 6/8/2015]. 

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08 June 2015

World Oceans Day 2015: Healthy Oceans, healthy planet

Artwork by: Mike Yap

The ocean provides us with many things, including food and medicine, and is an important reservoir of carbon and oxygen, things that are necessary for our survival. Other than these, it serves as a home to vast numbers of organisms and it also regulates the Earth’s climate. Simply put, oceans since the dawn of time, have been caring for all organisms including the human race, but the question is, do we care for the oceans? Unfortunately, humans have misused its resources and unknowingly put 71 percent of the Earth’s surface at risk. However,  it is never too late for man to change this kind of situation.

Today, the whole world celebrates World Oceans Day, an annual event to celebrate the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean. This was first proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and in 2008 during the United Nations General Assembly, it was officially set to be celebrated every 8th day of June. May this celebration remind and unite us all in making plans into actions toward a sustainable management of the world’s oceans. Healthy oceans, healthy planet.


World Oceans Day 8 June. Accessed from http://www.un.org/en/events/oceansday/.
World Oceans Day History. Accessed from http://www.worldoceansday.org/about/history/.

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05 June 2015

Today is WED!

Artwork by: Mike Yap

We often used “WED” as an abbreviation for “Wednesday”, which is the day between Tuesday and Thursday, the fourth day of the week, or the third day of the working week. Well aside from that, “WED” is also an acronym for “World Environment Day”. It may sound something new for some individuals.

World Environment Day is initiated by the United Nation as a worldwide awareness and action for the environment. It encourages humans to take full responsibility in managing and utilizing the planet’s natural resources. Earth’s ecosystems are getting closer to critical depletion or irreversible change caused by increasing population growth and economic development. By 2050, if this continues and with a 9.6 billion population it is presumed that man will need three planets in order to sustain his ways of living and consumption.

As we celebrate WED with the theme, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.”,  may we all realize our own responsibility to take care for our planet. Let’s keep in mind that to secure good and healthy future need not cost the Earth. Your action counts. My action counts. Every action counts. Be an agent of change.

Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.

        UN Scretary-General Ban Ki-Moon


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