Millions of sea turtles dying in fishing gear, report warns

Bycatch and habitat loss have imperiled sea turtles world wide.

Green Sea Turtle in Hawaii © Ken Cole
Green Sea Turtle in Hawaii © Ken Cole

“Trawlers are completely indiscriminate. The target might be shrimp but for every pound of shrimp that might comp up with a given haul, there might have five or 20lbs of bycatch. That could be turtles, it could be all sorts of things,” said Wallace, a professor at Duke University and science adviser to Conservation International.

Millions of sea turtles dying in fishing gear, report warns
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent – Guardian UK


  1. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides some great resources to help people avoid buying seafood harvested in unsustainable ways:

  2. Peter Callen Avatar

    First time reading your blog, it looks and reads great, thanks for advocating for wildlife. I like your position on hunting, and agree, we need bridges between conservation groups and hunting groups, not fights. Please consider adding our website to your blogroll, and we shall do the same.

    Peter Callen
    Pathways-Wildlife Corridors of NM

  3. Virginia Avatar

    Thank you, Matt. I will send this to my sons who like sushi. I’ve been telling them to stop eating it.

  4. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Well, they should probably stop eating tuna, that’s for sure. That one was hard for me to give up. Between the mercury and the fact that we’re not leaving many of them in the ocean.

  5. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Another huge problem for sea turtles is ATV riding and 4×4 truck driving on beaches in Mexico and other countries where turtles nest on the beach. The turtles hatch on the beach and must make their way to the water as babies but driving over the nests kills them and makes the beaches polluted as well. There are groups in Baja California who are making some headway in getting this situation under control in some areas. We support them when we can.

  6. Linda Hunter Avatar

    To be more specific driving on the beach packs down the sand so the turtles can’t dig nests and people in Baja are trying to get the lighted beaches darker so the baby turtles can find the ocean.

  7. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Linda – along the same lines, uncontrolled dogs (among other things) scavenge nests. In some parts of the world, turtle eggs are also considered a delicacy. Lastly, bright lights from homes/hotels can confuse hatched turtles and draw them away from the water instead of toward it once they hatch. There’s a lot going against these creatures.

    Snorkeling and body surfing among them in Hawaii and Mexico were among the most thrilling wildlife encounters I’ve ever had.

  8. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears


    I really understand the thrill you felt, I used to live in Kailua-Kona, HI on the big Island and spent a lot of time in the water, scuba diving as well as snorkeling, it was always an enlightening experience to be in the water with the Turtles..

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I saw this story and thought to myself “Hey! This would be a great way to post this photo that I’m so proud of.”

      I absolutely loved snorkeling with the turtles and I was fortunate enough to see a Hawaiian monk seal at the place of refuge as well as hundreds of whales along the western coast of the big island. We were told that the whale watching was particularly good while we were there and we saw many breaching whales and were told that one of the whales we were watching had probably just given birth before we arrived.

      Things were relatively quiet there as the economy has really slowed tourism there. Unfortunately the invasive species problems on the islands were evident everywhere we went.

    2. matt bullard Avatar
      matt bullard

      Hey Ken – we also saw a monk seal resting on the beach just by our rental apartment on Kauai last fall. That was amazing – he or she was hauled out on on of the most popular beaches on the south side (Poipu). The life guards had it roped off so people couldn’t get too close. And the turtles mingling in the surf just a few yards away… That was a cool day. Amazing that you saw so many whales. I’d like to go back there during whale season.

      As for invasive species – we noticed it too – we saw goatheads/puncturevine on one of our hikes, and that was only what we recognized. Lots of signs about the problem everywhere we went…


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole