Thursday, March 24, 2016

Leatherback Sea Turtles: An Essay by BCS 2nd Grader Nathan Becker

As part of a project-based learning unit focused on the threats faced by Leatherback Sea Turtles, second graders used the design-thinking process to develop innovative solutions for keeping the turtles safe. Students presented their creative prototypes to peers and parents, and Ms. Tomasetti's student, Nathan Becker, shared this well-written and thoroughly researched essay about what he had learned. 

The Leatherback turtle has survived for more than one hundred million years, but it is now facing extinction. The leatherback’s scientific name is dermochelys coriacea. That means wide-ranging marine turtle with flexible leathery carapace.

The global population for this species was estimated to be 115,000 adult females in 1982. By 1996, this had been revised down to about 30-40,000 Leatherback populations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans have dropped a lot in the past forty years. For example, the nesting colony in Terengganu, Malaysia went from more than 3,000 females in 1968, to 20 in 1993, to 2 later in 1993. There are no signs of recovery. 

Leatherbacks have been recorded as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. The Pacific Ocean may now have as few as 2,300 adult females.

However, not all Leatherback populations have declined. In southern Africa, three decades of strong protection have increased the small annual nesting populations more than four times.

Leatherbacks have survived for a long time but they are dying out and soon they may become extinct. In the Pacific and Indian Ocean, the Leatherbacks populations are getting smaller and smaller. But, not all Leatherback populations are shrinking. In some places people are protecting them.