The green turtles (chelonia mydas) are the large marine turtles belongs to family Cheloniidae and class Reptilia. Their major nesting sites in Pakistan are at Sandpits and Hawkes bay in Sindh province and a few beaches in Baluchistan such as Ormara, Tak, Jiwani and Darran etc.
IUCN declared sea turtles endangered species because according to a report after 1987 there was a quick decline of sea turtle population on Pakistan’s shores. In 1997 out of 17008 nesting sites only 3059 were recorded. . According to previous surveys, from 1981 to 1983, nearly 6000 green turtles nested on the beaches of Hawkesbay and Sandspit (Kabraji and Firdous, 1984). A news report appeared in ‘The Express Tribune’ dated May 23, 2011 stated that less than 1,000 turtles are left on Pakistan’s shores.
There are many reasons involved for their huge declination which showed we don’t care for a natural species that have great importance for marine ecosystem. Sea turtles provide a nursery for many other species like invertebrates and fishes etc.
Major threats to this specie
A major fact about their decline is low growth rate to environmental constraints. The main threats are there:
- Habitat loss and degradation results from commercial and industrial expansion on beaches.
- Green turtles export through smugglers
- Their eggs foraged by crabs, crows and dogs and quashing by vehicles on beaches.
- Incidental catch in fishermen’s net
- Marine pollution causes the tumor_ Fibro papilloma in turtles
- The presence of lights on or adjacent to nesting beaches alters the behaviour of nesting adults and is often fatal to emerging hatchings as they are attracted to light sources and drawn away from the water.
Conservation of Green Sea Turtles:
Saving the endangered sea turtles on coastal areas of Pakistan there are many organizations that are working for their conservation.
IUCN (international union for conservation of nature) is actively engaged in the conservation, awareness-raising and monitoring of sea turtles along Sindh and Balochistan coasts. IUCN emphasizing on TEDs (Turtle Excluder Device) installation which is a specialized device with a grid of bars that facilitates escape of a captured sea turtle when caught in a fisherman’s net.
Since 1979 the Sindh Wildlife Department, along with IUCN and WWF has been carrying out a sea turtle conservation project in Pakistan. Adults were tagged and the eggs were collected from the beach, incubated in special enclosures at Hawkesbay and Sandspit. Hatchlings were weighed and counted at the Sindh Wildlife lab at the beach and the relevant data is painstakingly gathered. The department also arranged visits for school children during the peak nesting season between August and January to create awareness about sea turtle conservation.
Recently, a satellite transmitter was attached to a green turtle in a joint project by WWF Pakistan and SWD. The battery on the transmitter will last for six months during which invaluable data will be collected about sea turtle navigation and foraging habits.
A non-profit organization, Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment, recently conducted a project called the ‘GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Mapping of Karachi coast and GIS based analysis of marine turtle habitat. The project used the GIS planning to understand the nesting patterns and processes with a focus on analyzing critical interactions between turtle nesting and the physical and environmental attributes of the beach.
By all these efforts, sea turtles got protected status in Pakistan but unluckily their habitat not. So shehrie’s plan best for their habitat protection.
All these organizations especially shehri-CBE has been doing commendable work in protecting the sea turtles hatchlings and documenting nesting counts along with studying their nesting pattern and habits. New information and work make a hope for sea turtles existence. Now,we can say, our next generations would able to see and enjoy the green sea turtles live on beaches and we wouldn’t have to tell them Green Sea Turtles stories.
ASRAR, F.F. 1997 Marine Turtles and CITES in Pakistan. Natura, (WWF, Pakistan) 23 (2): 7-8
FIRDOUS, F. 1988. Conservation of turtles at Hawkes Bay Sandspit Beaches, Karachi
Source: Report on Karachi sea turtles by Ahmer Ali Rizvi and Farhan Anwar