Did you know that Florida is globally important for sea turtles?
Florida’s beaches provide nesting habitat for five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles: loggerhead, green, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill, which are all listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. More than 90% of all sea turtle nesting in the continental U.S. occurs in Florida.
That’s why Defenders of Wildlife works to preserve nesting beaches and foraging sites along Florida’s Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Supported by our members and donors, we work to improve coastal development policies and lighting practices that can harm sea turtles and their habitat.
We also help people take action to protect sea turtles, such as reducing waste, cleaning up beach trash, and cutting use of home and lawn chemicals. We advocate for strong laws that reform commercial fishing practices so fewer sea turtles are caught in nets. And we’re working to improve the regulation of international trade in live sea turtles, and products made from sea turtles.
But there is more that we can do. Sometimes wildlife, like sea turtles, need a helping hand. When we find them injured by boat strikes, ingestion of plastic pollution, stunning from exposure to cold water, entanglement in fishing nets and other marine debris, or exposure to oil spills and other threats, doesn’t it make sense to help them heal?
We believe it does. That’s why Defenders of Wildlife works in partnership with highly qualified research, rescue and rehabilitation centers like the Gumbo Limbo Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Florida.
The scientists at Gumbo Limbo treat as many as 100 rescued sea turtles each year, and up to 300 hatchlings as well, always with the goal of releasing them back into the wild just as soon as they’re healthy enough to thrive.
Working with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers, captive breeding facilities, and other centers, is one of the ways Defenders of Wildlife is conserving imperiled species, backed by our amazing members and partners. But of course, there is much more that must be done.
If you see an injured animal, do not touch it. But do check to see if there is a rescue or rehabilitation center near you. The more species are threatened with extinction because of human-caused threats, climate change and other dangers, the more important it is to help every animal we can.