A keystone species is an integral element of its habitat. If you remove it from its natural environment, the entire ecosystem can be disrupted. Sea turtles are one such species. They’re super important for maintaining the health of our oceans and sustaining marine life. But not many people know what that entails.
Sea Turtles Protect Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are a keystone species themselves. They’re also home to hawksbill turtles, which eat thrive on a diet of sea sponges. Too many sea sponges can threaten the life of a coral reef and hawksbill turtles help regulate their population—indirectly promoting the coral reefs’ fight against climate change.
Sea Turtles Provide Nutrients to Land
Sea turtles aren’t just important for life underwater. When they step out of the ocean during nesting season, they deposit their eggs in the sand. The eggshells provide special nutrients to the sand that provide nourishment for beach vegetation such as wild grass. The nutrients also help stabilize sand dunes in cases of coastal erosion.
Sea Turtles Are Important Members of the Food Web
Sea turtles are prey for many different marine animals. Their eggs are almost always being preyed on by crabs, sea birds, fish and some land mammals. Adult turtles are an integral food source for orcas and sharks. Likewise, sea turtles prey on other animals such as jellyfish to keep their population in balance. Leatherback sea turtles are especially important in this regard. Without their appetite for jellyfish, the latter’s population would boom. Jellyfish feed on larval fish so you can imagine how an increased number can severely deplete the number of fish in the ocean.
Sea Turtles Maintain Underwater Plant Life
Green sea turtles love to eat sea grasses. This keeps the seagrass beds healthy, just like how lawn mowers keep the grass in your backyard healthy. Seagrass beds are normally present in shallow waters. They provide home, food and protection for a variety of fish and also prevent ocean bed erosion during storms and harsh waves.
Sea Turtles Support Coastal Communities
A healthy population of sea turtles can serve as an important source of revenue for coastal communities. Eco-tourism is on the rise and sea turtle watching can help provide income worth three times as much as that of selling their eggs or meat. Long story short, sea turtles are more useful to humans alive than they’re dead.
Ecological benefits aside, sea turtles are just downright lovable! If you want to protect these wonderful marine animals, get in touch with us. The Ocean Vibe brings to you quirky, ocean-themed merchandise like shirts, shoes and bedding for a greener future. Shop now and donate 10 percent of your purchase to Sea Turtles Preservation Association and The Ocean Conservancy!