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coastal development & tourism

Coastal development is a broad category which includes an array of human activities including beachfront construction of homes, hotels, restaurants, and roads, often for tourism. Also included are things like beach renourishment, seawall construction, and nearshore dredging and oil platform construction.  Half of the world’s population lives on or within 100 miles of a coastline and this number will likely increase dramatically in the next decade.

The human alteration of coastlines forces nesting females to use other beaches, changes the properties of nesting beaches, and contributes to the pollution of sea turtle habitat from runoff and wastewater discharge. Increased coastal populations result in increased recreation and beach going vehicles. Upon reaching sexual maturity, sea turtles generally return to the same beaches where they were hatched to lay eggs. Objects left on beaches, like beach chairs, create obstacles for nesting females, sometimes resulting in failed nesting attempts. Obstacles on beaches can also be hazards to hatchlings as they get trapped in depressions and are unable to make it to the ocean.

Seawall construction creates impenetrable barriers to nesting females and causes unnatural erosion of beaches.  Boats and personal watercraft are responsible for large numbers of sea turtle injuries and deaths. As coastal populations increase, boating activities increase and collisions with sea turtles that must surface to breathe, are inevitable. In Florida, most sea turtle strandings are the result of collisions with boats.

Resources

sample social media posts

Development on the coast can affect sea turtles in many ways. Lights can deter nesting turtles and attract hatchlings, beach armoring and construction prevents nesting, and with development comes pollution. Learn more about this threat here: http://www.seeturtles.org/coastal-development #SeaTurtleWeek