Turtle Grazing Putting Pressure On Seagrass

February 6, 2022

“In recent years green sea turtle grazing has put unprecedented pressure on Bermuda’s seagrass habitat resulting in the collapse of local beds, thus creating a conservation dilemma where one protected species, the green sea turtle, is causing the decline of other protected species, the seagrasses.”

This is according to the report on the “State of Bermuda’s Marine Waters,” which said, “The offshore seagrass beds, which are far from man’s direct impact, were the first beds to disappear. The disappearance of seagrass meadows has also stripped protection from known and unknown shipwrecks and marine heritage sites, exposing them to erosion, biological elements, and unregulated discovery.

Seagrass restoration cage deployed at Chub Heads in August 2020

Seagrass Restoration Project Bermuda Jan 2021 1

“Most green sea turtles around Bermuda hatch on nesting beaches around the Caribbean Sea or Florida and arrive on the Bermuda Platform via ocean currents as small juveniles. Bermuda’s nesting population became extinct in the 1800s.

“Successful conservation efforts on the nesting beaches to the south have resulted in increasing numbers of sea turtle hatchlings, which has most likely led to the increase in juvenile green sea turtles that have taken up residence on the Bermuda Platform.

File photo of a turtle popping its head up in local waters:

green turtle bermuda generic 22131

“In a healthy marine ecosystem, seagrass and green sea turtles co-exist. However, sharks, the natural predator of green sea turtles, have been overfished in the north Atlantic and the scarcity of sea turtle predators may possibly be causing an imbalance in the ecosystem of the Bermuda Platform.

“In other places sharks not only control the size of the green sea turtle population, but also restrict the amount of time that sea turtles spend eating seagrasses.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] initiated a seagrass restoration project in June 2020 which involves placing large mesh restoration cages over seagrass areas struggling to survive.

The State of Bermuda’s Marine Waters report follows below [PDF here]

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  1. Will says:

    Looks like turtle’s back on the menu boys!