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Which Sea Turtles Are Most Endangered? | BeCause Tees

Which Sea Turtles Are Most Endangered?

Sea turtles today face numerous threats that push them towards the brink of extinction. Of the seven species of sea turtles, six are listed as either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. In this blog post, we’ll explore which sea turtles are most endangered and the causes for their population declines.

Green Sea Turtle

The Most Endangered Sea Turtles

1. Kemp's Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)

The Kemp's ridley turtle is the most endangered sea turtle species in the world. Nesting primarily on a single beach in Mexico, the species faced a catastrophic decline between the 1940s and 1980s. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in April 2010 also caused thousands of turtles to die, with Kemp’s ridley turtle thought to be particularly affected.

Strict protection measures, collaborative research, and community involvement have been instrumental in safeguarding the Kemp's ridley turtle. Although conservation efforts have helped stabilize their population, threats like incidental capture in fishing gear, habitat degradation, and climate change continue to pose challenges, and they continue to be critically endangered.

2. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Another critically endangered sea turtle, the hawksbill turtle is known for its stunning shell. Its decline is primarily attributed to overexploitation for its shell, which is highly valued in the international market for jewelry and decorative items. Similarly to other sea turtles, destruction of natural habitats, pollution, boat strikes, and entanglement in fishing gear also pose significant threats to their survival. According to SEE Turtles, some researchers believe the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill may be the most endangered sea turtle population in the world.

Conservation organizations and governments worldwide are implementing measures to protect hawksbill turtles, including making the international trade of their shells illegal.

Hawksbill Turtle

3. Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas):

Classified as endangered, the major threats to this species of sea turtle are bycatch in fisheries and being targeted for their meat, eggs, and shells. Other threats include ocean pollution, boat strikes, and habitat destruction.

Conservation efforts have focused on protecting critical nesting sites, implementing fishing regulations, and raising awareness about sustainable practices.

4. Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea):

The leatherback turtle holds the title of being the largest sea turtle in the world and is widely distributed. Classified by the IUCN Red List as vulnerable, many subpopulations, including the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic, are critically endangered.

Habitat loss, bycatch, and egg poaching are major threats for leatherback turtles. In addition, leatherback turtles are susceptible to ingesting plastics that are floating in the ocean that they mistake for jellyfish. This highlights the importance of efforts to remove plastic pollution from our oceans.

Efforts to protect leatherback turtles involve the establishment of protected areas, nest relocation programs, and reducing plastic pollution in the oceans.

Baby Leatherback Turtle

5. Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta):

The loggerhead turtle is another species classified as vulnerable. These turtles face threats from habitat destruction, pollution, accidental capture in fishing gear, and disturbance of nesting sites. The intensive development of coastal areas, particularly nesting beaches, has significantly reduced suitable habitats for loggerhead turtles.

Conservation efforts involve protected area designation, beach management practices, and collaboration with local communities to ensure their survival.

6. Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea):

Also classified as vulnerable, olive ridley turtles face threats such as accidental capture in fishing gear, habitat destruction, and egg collection. These turtles are known for their synchronized nesting events, where thousands of females come ashore to lay their eggs.

Conservation efforts focus on protecting nesting beaches, implementing turtle excluder devices in fishing nets, and educating local communities about sustainable practices.


So, which sea turtles are most endangered? Nearly all species of sea turtle are struggling, with Kemp's ridley turtle at the top of the list. The plight of endangered sea turtles is a stark reminder of the urgent need for conservation action. BeCause Tees are proud to be partnered with SEE Turtles to play our part in conservation. For every item sold, a donation is made to SEE Turtles - shop our Sea Turtle Collection.

BeCause Tees x SEE Turtles apparel

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