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Environments impacted by Sea Turtles:

Seagrass Beds

A main part of the Green Sea Turtle’s diet is comprised of feeding on seagrass beds. As they graze upon these beds, it removes the more mature grasses which leads to seagrass regeneration. These grasses are really flowering plants that spend their whole life underwater. These feedings also reduce the amount of nitrogen levels in the water. When seagrasses decompose, they use up dissolved oxygen which prevents light going to deeper waters which blocks the development of new ocean life. With their regular feedings of these seagrass beds, Green Sea Turtles contribute to the ocean’s well-being by nurturing additional growth and decreasing the build-up of slime molds. Other types of ocean life such as fish and crustacean families are dependent on these seagrass beds. These seagrass beds provide an environment for their reproduction cycle and shelter for their early stages of growth.

Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are an underwater ecosystem that are formed with reef-building corals. The Hawksbill Sea Turtles directly affect these structures by grasping the marine sponges with their beak-like shaped mouths to remove them from the coral reefs. Their actions create an environment for other species to inhabit these new areas, such as shrimp, lobster and tuna. With the removal of these marine sponges, coral reefs are able to begin the creation process for development of new coral. Also, when the sponges are being harvested by the turtles, this creates an instant available food source with the opening up interior surface of the sponges. With their continuous scavenging of these sponges, the Hawksbill Sea turtles are positively contributing to increasing the amount of varieties within the reef populations.

Beach Dunes

Beach dunes provide shelter for inland areas, within these protected areas sea turtles lay their eggs. Even the unhatched eggs provide numerous benefits, containing essential nutrients that transfer to nearby vegetation and small organisms that live on shore. Due to the beach dunes limitations to store these nutrients, the unhatched sea turtle’s eggs distribute their nutritional value both vegetation and root systems. Some of the sea turtle’s eggs become intertwined with these root systems, so the plants can obtain these nutrients. In addition to, these eggs offer animals another source to obtain nourishment. After feasting on the sea turtle eggs, the animal’s droppings merge back into the beach dunes for continuous distribution resulting in equilibrium in the habitat.