A recent study claims that endangered turtle (Hawksbill & Green turtle) population is increasing in Pacific coral reefs.
Coral-dwelling sea turtles have long been endangered due to human exploitation of Hawksbill turtle for tortoiseshell, Green turtles for food and destruction of coral reef habitat.
To more fully understand the density of the populations of these two turtle species, as well as the environmental and anthropogenic factors that have driven them, the authors’ combined data from 13 years of in-water visual surveys of turtle abundance near 53 islands, atolls, and reefs.
Survey data showed that mostly uninhabited region about a thousand miles southwest of Hawaii had the greenest turtles.
Hawksbill turtle numbers were far lower than green turtle counts, indicating that many conservation threats still exist for this species.
The density of green turtles was driven primarily by ocean temperatures and productivity but suggested effects from historical and present-day human impacts.
During the survey, green turtle populations were either stable or increased. The lowest density but the highest annual population growth was found in the Hawaiian Islands, suggesting that protective regulations may be paying off in allowing green turtle populations to rebound.
Becker, the lead author adds “This study represents one of the largest sea turtle population surveys ever conducted, filling critical gaps on in-water abundance and drivers of population density.
Across the tropical Pacific several locations held impressive densities of sea turtles, and in all regions densities were driven by bottom-up forces like ocean temperatures and productivity and top-down forces such as human impacts.