Sea grass is a type of vegetation that grows on the sea floor and is only consumed by sea turtles (Green Turtles especially) and manatees. It must permanently be "cut" short in order to remain healthy, and beds of sea grass are vital breeding and development stretches for numerous species of fish and other marine life. If Green Sea Turtles grow extinct, it is only easy to understand that these creatures, who are hopelessly dependant on the sea grass beds, will also face extinction. Over the past decades, there has been a decline in the number of sea grass beds, and this is thought to be closely linked to the decline in Green Sea Turtles' population.
Another ecosystem that is and will be seriously affected by Green Sea Turtles is portrayed by dune systems and beaches. Very little vegetation can be found in these areas, and that is because sand cannot hold nutrients. Beaches cannot hold vegetation of any kind by themselves. And here comes the help of Green Sea Turtles. We've later said that this is the place where they nest. But not all the eggs hatch. Also, not all the baby turtles that hatch, reach the sea. Many of them get lost on the way because of artificial light, or remain on the beach until sunlight comes and they die of heat. The unhatched nests and eggs, the lost hatchlings and above all, the eggshells that remain after the hatching has occurred, represent excellent nutrients for the unfriendly environment. They will provide enough "food" for dune vegetation to flourish and become stronger. The health of vegetation therefore contributes to the health of the entire beach. And a healthy beach is prevented from erosion. As the Green Sea Turtle population decreases, fewer eggs are nested; even fewer are hatched, and fewer nutrients are provided to the beaches and dunes. In the past decades, there has been an alarming rate of beaches' erosion because of the lack of vegetation. This, replies back through fewer space for Green Sea turtles to nest their eggs and so on. One hand washes the other, it is all a continuous circle.
Some protective measures though, have been taken recently (over the past few decades). Green Sea Turtles, along with the other sea turtles that live in Hawaii, are fully protected by the Hawaii state law; it prohibits not only hunting, but also injuring or harassing turtles, as well as holding them in captivity without previously obtaining a special permit for educational or research purposes.
As hilarious and irrational as it may seem to some, riding on the back of Green Sea Turtles and all other species of turtles is also forbidden, as it is considered to cause them stress. The fine for this crime is set at as much as $100,000 and one can even spend some time in prison for that.
The Green Sea Turtle is stated as Endangered in the Breeding colony populations in Florida and on Pacific coast of Mexico, and was first listed in 1978, on July 28. The other sea turtle species are still regarded as Threatened, but it will not take long until being decreeted Endangered either. A recovery plan has also been launched, and during the past 20 years, the number of members of the species has remained constant.
In the Southeast United States major attempts to save Green Sea Turtles are made. People are trying hard to insure nesting areas for turtles, and incidental mortality has been significantly reduced. The Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have developed programs funding research on the Fibropapilloma virus, and people have been forbidden to hunt the helpless creatures. Much more is still to be made though.
The degradation of one ecosystem leads to the degradation of another, and so on. And mankind doesn't seem to be aware of it; or it completely ignores it.
Sea Turtle. Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia. On the Internet at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_turtle.information Retrieved November 3, 2006
Schweitzer, Veronica S. The Struggle of the Ancients. August 1997. On the Internet at http://www.coffeetimes.com/aug97.htm. information Retrieved November 3, 2006 http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/turtles.html. information Retrieved November 3, 2006