School children in a procession to commemorate the World Turtle Day
School children in a procession to commemorate the World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day commemorated: Citizens urged to protect sea turtles from extinction

Fisherfolk and others living along the coast have been urged to protect sea turtles from extinction as the nation joined the rest of the globe yesterday to commemorate this year’s World Turtle Day.

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The Site Manager of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission at Winneba, Vivian Aye-Addo, said the sustenance of sea turtles came with enormous benefit to humans, hence the need to preserve them.

She said turtles acted as a check on the population of jellyfish. The event was commemorated at the Landing Beach at Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region by Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO.

As part of an awareness creation, first and second cycle students, accompanied by brass band music, walked through the principal streets of the town. They carried placards some of which read: "Help protect sea turtles", "Healthy oceans equals healthy fisheries, through grazing", "Turtles help to maintain healthy sea grass beds", "Turtles can help in fish population recovery" and "Climate change affects Sea turtles".

Importance

Ms Aye-Addo said aside from feeding, flippers of turtles ensured that grass on the seabed remained fresh for other fish to feed. The turtles also nurse on beaches where their rotten shells fertilise the sand and aid the growth of coconut trees and other grass along the coast.

"And in the sea, their shells serve as habitats for other aquatic animals.They also promote tourism because you have people coming to watch them during their nesting seasons," she added.

Ms Aye-Addo mentioned other benefits to include the use of turtles for cultural activities, among others. The major difference between the turtle and tortoise is that while the former lives in water, the latter survives on land.

"We, therefore, entreat people not to kill them because they are very beneficial. We are also asking them to protect the turtles to increase revenue generation through eco-tourism," she said.

A project manager at Awutu Winton SHS, Seb Woodhouse, underscored the need for beaches along the coast to be kept clean.

Sustaining livelihoods

A programmes officer of the Foundation, Osei Akoto Nyantakyi, also stressed the need to protect turtles to sustain livelihoods. The Gomoa Fetteh Chief Fisherman, Nana Obrenu Dabum, lauded the NGO for the project it was undertaking to protect sea turtles from extinction.

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