Marine Turtles and Coral Reefs – Fighting for Survival

Marine turtles have have been around the world’s oceans since the time of the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, over the past 200 years, their number was drastically reduced. Nowadays, almost all species of turtles are endangered, some being slaughtered while others are victims of habitat destruction. Climate change also affect the nesting sites, as any change in the sand’s temperature influences the sex of the hatchlings.

The Coral Reefs aren’t just pretty looking sediments, but are actual living creatures. They are also endangered, due to pollution which suffocates the reefs with layers of trash. The warming and acidifying of oceans makes them susceptible to disease and death, due to the loss of the symbiotic algae they need to survive (it causes the reef to lose its color).

My painting draws attention to their importance for our ecosystem.

We should all take better care of our oceans, and protect the marine wildlife. Just a few easy steps in our everyday actions can chance the balance for the better:
  • Try to be as energy efficient as possible in order to put an end to global warming (this will stop the ocean acidification);
  • Don’t leave garbage on the beach, as turtles might confuse it with food (plastic bags might cause them to suffocate and die);
  • Limit the use of plastic (wrappers, bags);
  • Don’t leave fishing lines in the ocean (turtles get stuck in fishing lines and die because of starvation);
  • Eat eco-friendly fish – this means eating species that have a healthy population;

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The Natura Artis Magistra Adventure

Artis is one of the oldest zoos in Europe (176 years old), located in the heart of Amsterdam. Founded in 1838 by three wealthy Dutch gentlemen, Gerard Westerman, J.W.H. Werlemann and J.J. Wijsmuller, the zoo is the home of an Aquarium, a Butterfly Pavilion, an Insectarium, and a Planetarium.

Starting with a small number of animals, a few monkeys, some parrots and other birds, and a Surinamese wildcat, Artis rapidly expanded, more land being purchased, some with existing structures on them. This is how 27 monumental buildings are still located in the zoo’s gardens, most being used as animal enclosures.

The full name of the zoo stands for: nature is the teacher of art and science. That being said, I present to you the cutest teachers around:

Travel journal – Volunteer for the Turtles

I’ve put a lot of thought into writing this blog post and it wasn’t a very easy decision. On one hand, I would like to inform as many people as possible about the situation, and on the other hand I have troubles deciding if I should inform more people about this. Why? It’s simple: more tourists in the area, means less chances of survival for the turtles.

Considering this, for conservation reasons, I will name the location: Big S.

Big S is home of a quite large Marine Park which means turtles can be spotted. When I first got there, I had no idea you can spot so many beautiful marine animals and this is what made the surprise even bigger.


Fascinating little creatures… Simply stunning!

I went slowly from enjoying my vacation, to realizing I ended up in the middle of a disaster area for the local wildlife, which will slowly lead to the extinction of turtles.

The Marine Park is quite unusual, because the bay in which it’s located is home of hundreds of stores, bars and restaurants, all projecting into the sea bright colorful lights and loud noises, spooking out the turtles. Besides this, motor boats and ships full of tourists scan the area for the wonders of the Sea, injuring the animals with the propellers. To make matters worse, the tourists step on the turtle nests and destroy the eggs. What also doesn’t help are the water sports which led to the injuring and death of a large number of turtles, in the past year.

Not quite the habitat for a turtle? You are perfectly right! This is why NGOs started working on the protection of these fascinating creatures. Switching from vacation mood to all hands on deck mode, I became a volunteer for a few days, helping a marine biologist in the fight for raising awareness of the impact of tourism on the beautiful animals. Difficult mission though and it will always be this way as long as the financial interests of the locals get into conflict with the marine wildlife. This started a lot of conflicts between locals who want to keep their business at any cost and people who want to protect the animals. Marine Park guards got harassed by locals and tourists who simply don’t want to leave the beach when the turtles are nesting, and protectors got harassed for endangering the local tourism.

Very sad story, especially when you know the turtles stand no chance when it comes down to what’s more important for the local economy. A Marine Park doesn’t make money, but a restaurant or club does. What’s even more sad is that Big S has a similar story, when the wildlife lost the battle. Not long ago the habitat of the flamingo birds, which used to call Big S their home, got destroyed and replaced with concrete structures, and now, because of the increase in the number of tourists, the turtles are endangered as well.

The main problem is that tourists are not informed about the location of the nests and the dangers of the vibrations caused by walking close to the area. Curiosity brings people closer and closer, until they end up suffocating the hatchlings. Also, following them into the sea, or chasing them with speed boats, causes a lot of stress on the turtles, and sometimes they end up injured or even worse, dead.


Beautiful Big S is definitely worth seeing, but in such location, with a rich turtle population, you have to consider the marine wildlife and don’t become part of the problem! The main reason for writing this article is to raise awareness on the turtles, as conservation of all species is very important. Animals were there long before us, so think twice before renting a speed boat or practicing water sports, in any location where you know marine creatures are present. Also, keep your distance from the nesting beaches, as you might step on a nest without even realizing it, and kill the hatchlings. Considering that only 1 in 1000 hatchlings reaches mating age, every turtle is precious!

For most of the wild things on earth the future must depend upon the conscience of mankind.” – Dr. Archie Carr