Turtles of the size range found on the Bermuda Platform have only one natural enemy sharks. Small post-hatchlings found out in the Sargasso Sea are threatened by a wider range of predators including fish and several species of birds. Eggs and hatchlings on nesting beaches face predation by ants, crabs, birds and dogs on land, and the hatchlings face a host of marine carnivores such as snappers, groupers, barracudas and sharks once they reach the sea. Nests are also lost to erosion of the nesting beach.
The green turtle, the most common sea turtle in Bermuda’s waters, once nested abundantly on our beaches. William Strachy’s narrative of 1610 noted “even then the Tortoyses came in again, laying their eggs (of which we should find five hundred at a time in the opening of a shee turtle) in the sand by the sea shoare.” New World explorers wrote of huge herds of turtles. The explorers would capture many of the turtles, which were capable of remaining alive for weeks in the holds of their ships, providing fresh and nutritious meals for their long ocean voyages.
What You Can Do
By learning more about sea turtles and the threats they face, you have already made a positive step toward protecting them.
Despite the protection offered to sea turtles in Bermuda, there are still numerous threats. Data from stranded animals suggest that boat strikes and entanglement (a significant number of which involve monofulament fishein line left in the marine environment by local shoreline fishers) are the most prevelant anthropogenic hazards causing reported standings of sea turtle in Berumda. Both are associated with high levels of mortality. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Program at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo receives as many as fifty stranded sea turtles each year.
The Bermuda Turtle Project is a cooperative program funded by two organizations, the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Please consider supporting the Bermuda Turtle Project by making a donation to one or both of the partner organizations.