Endangered Species Day: A Look at Sea Turtles of the Cape Fear Region
In 2006, the United States Senate established Endangered Species Day to recognize efforts to conserve imperiled species. May 15th marks the celebration’s tenth year. Some endangered reptiles enhance the tourism economy in the Cape Fear region.
Four types of sea turtles lay their eggs along the coast of southeastern North Carolina: loggerheads, green sea turtles, leatherbacks, and a few Kemp’s Ridley. Once a hatchling makes it to the ocean, the sea turtle has a one in one thousand chance of survival.
Suzanne Dorsey, the executive director of Bald Head Island Conservancy, says it’s important to protect the creatures for economic reasons:
"Sea turtles annually bring to Bald Head Island alone 30 million dollars in revenue. These are people who come to Bald Head primarily to see an endangered sea turtle nest or hatch out. Not having sea turtles, not having charismatic birds, plant species, and beautiful ecosystems like maritime forest would decrease the value of vacationing on our coastline."
Dorsey says released balloons, plastic bags, ocean pollution, and boat strikes kill sea turtles. She says making small changes—like kicking a littering habit and reducing boat speed—can make a big difference in the survival of these threatened species.