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Saving a Species: Sea Turtles

31 minutes

They've been around since the dinosaurs. They endure as one of nature's most resilient survivors... ...swimming huge distances in the face of natural predators and unnatural threats. It's a struggle against odds that get tougher all the time... ..making sea turtles miraculous superstars in this edition of "Saving a Species."

(Describer) In an animation, different animals are shown, turtles, a penguin, a tiger, a gorilla, a bald eagle and a whale. By another turtle, title: Saving a Species: Sea Turtle.

Welcome to "Saving a Species." I'm Bill Street and you're about to meet one of nature's top survivors, the sea turtle. To help us appreciate these animals, we've put together a team of experts to introduce us to sea turtles, and try to experience what life looks like from a sea turtle's perspective. Let's start with Chuck Cureau, joining us from Ft. De Soto Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast. Hey, Bill. This beach is a sea turtle nesting area. Fortunately, it's also a protected wildlife area. Park rangers do an amazing job guarding the nest and ensuring turtle survival. Even with all that, sea turtles face some pretty tough odds, especially at the nesting stage. We wondered what could happen to a sea turtles nest during 48 hours? To find out, we set up a simulated nest monitored by a hidden time-lapse camera. Whatever happens, we'll show you the results later in the show. Thanks, Chuck. Now let's meet sea turtles up close. For that, we turn to aquarists Tim and Nate.

(Describer) Title: Under the Shell.

Hi, I'm Tim.

(Describer) Title: Tim Delaney: Nathaniel Dash:

And I'm Nate. And we're here to talk turtles...

(both) Sea turtles!

(Describer) Some sea turtles swim underwater. Tim:

Let's talk about the first thing everyone focuses on. I'll say turtle, you say-- Shell. Exactly.

(Describer) Tim wears a turtle costume.

If I wore this to a party, no one would have to guess my costume.

(Describer) Nate: Without the costume...Tim:

Hey, you're a turtle. The problem is, when people think of a turtle shell, they tend to think of this...

(Describer) Someone wears a suit of armor. Lifting up the mask, it's Nate.


Body Armor A sea turtle shell does provide them with some natural protection, but it doesn't make them invincible. For starters, there's one huge difference between land turtles and sea turtles.

(Describer) Nate:

Most terrestrial turtles can withdraw inside their shell for protection.

(Describer) Nate lowers the mask.

Not so with the sea turtle. They're built for life in the water. With flippers instead of legs, the limbs stay outside of the shell.

(Tim Delaney) It's the same with their heads: non-retractable. All this makes them great swimmers, but also makes them more vulnerable than their land-bound relatives.

(Nathaniel Dash) They aren't just different from land turtles, they're also different from each other.

(Describer) They sit on a park bench. Tim:

You know, some folks think there's only one type of sea turtle, but that's not really true.

(Describer) They shine shoes.

You got your loggerhead sea turtle. Your leatherback sea turtles, and then there's the ridleys. Kemp's ridley sea turtle.

(Describer) They jog.

Olive ridley sea turtle. I'm partial to the green sea turtle. You've got your hawksbill sea turtle, your flat back sea turtle. Did I mention the loggerhead sea turtle?

(Describer) Nate:

Yes, yes you did.

(Describer) Grown and young sea turtles crawl on the sand.

Sea turtles do come in different varieties with some important differences. You can think of it like choosing a character from video game.

(Describer) Tim:

Okay, I'm gonna select green sea turtle.

(Nate) The design of the shell--

(Tim) The top side is a carapace.

(Describer) Nate:

If you look at the carapace, you'll notice these cool hexagonal plates.

(Describer) Tim:

Those are called scoots.

(Describer) Nate:

Correct; a carapace with scoots creates a very hard shell.

(Describer) Tim:

But check this out. This is the leatherback. This guy doesn't have scoots. Instead, he's got ridges. Also, the carapace is softer.

(Nate) Like leather. If you choose for body armor, you'd pick the hard shell, right? Right.

(Tim) But not so fast-- the leatherback's carapace is really thick and provides excellent insulation. The leatherback can travel to colder waters than other sea turtles.

(Describer) Nate:

And the leatherback is the largest. They can get as big as 70 inches, around 2,000 pounds.

(Describer) Tim:

But look at this-- the Olive ridleys, they're the smallest, only about 20 to 30 inches and around 100 pounds.

(Describer) Nate:

Huge difference there. Each of the sea turtle species has their own unique adaptations. The hawksbill turtle's got a narrow head and a hawk-like beak that he uses for picking food from narrow crevices in coral reefs. That's a very cool profile.

(Describer) Tim:

Just thinking, we're talking about the differences. We should say what sea turtles have in common. You know what that means. Yeah, it's time to go prehistoric.

(Describer) Title: 220 million years ago. Tim holds a toy dinosaur.

220 Million Years Ago

[making dinosaur noises]

(Describer) Nate:

Toys, Tim, really?

(Describer) Tim:

Hey, come on, it works.

(Describer) Nate:

Scientists believe modern sea turtles came from marsh-inhabiting ancestors from the late Triassic period.

(Tim) The largest was around 6,000 pounds. Over the years, these cold-blooded, hard-shelled reptiles shrunk down in size and became the sea turtles that we know and love today.

(Tim) Here they are-- the modern sea turtles. The bones in their flippers are like your hand.

(Describer) Tim:

Imagine if your hand was a flipper.

(Nate) There's one or two claws on each front flipper.

(Tim) The front flippers provide the swimming power.

(Nate) The hind flippers are shorter, acting like rudders, allowing the animal to swim in the desired direction.

(Tim) The hind flippers are good for digging, which is very useful when nesting season comes around.

(Describer) In a pool...Nate:

Forty-one thousand, forty-two thousand, forty-three thousand, forty-four--

[deep breathing]

(Describer) Tim comes up from underwater.

The average human can hold their breath for about a minute, but sea turtles can hold their breath for hours.

(Tim) It's not just that.

(Describer) Tim:

As cold-blooded animals, they slow their metabolic rate.

(Nate) Their heart rate slows to conserve oxygen to stay underwater longer.

(Tim) Some sea turtles hibernate through winter underwater.

(Nate) The oxygen they need comes from the water.

(Tim) Dissolved oxygen taken directly through their skin.

(Describer) Nate:

Enough about sea turtles. You gotta work on your lung capacity. Ready? Go.

(Describer) He ducks underwater again.

One, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand.

(Describer) Street:

With natural threats all around, sea turtles have been beating the odds for millions of years. Modern threats make the odds tougher than ever.

(Describer) Title: Against the Odds, Part 1. In front of a blackboard....

To understand the plight of the sea turtle, you have to know the numbers.

(Describer) Cureau:

I have calculated survival rates of sea turtles. I'm gonna take that data, plot it into a graph to illustrate numeric odds. Who am I kidding? This is boring. I've got a better idea. Why don't we use this giant crowd to demonstrate. Are you guys ready?


(Chuck Cureau) We've given participants color-coded stickers, but we haven't told them what the colors signify. Okay, everybody, for today's demonstration, you're all gonna be sea turtles. Each of you has a sticker that represents a stage in the sea turtle's life. If I call your color, I'll say what that means and then ask you to leave the group. You got it? All right, pink stickers. The mother sea turtle laid eggs. This whole group represents that 100%. The pink stickers are the 20% that didn't even hatch. Get out of there.

(Describer) They leave.

(girl) When I saw the other groups leave, I thought, "Maybe I'm gonna survive."

(Describer) Cureau:

Now the white stickers. The good news is, you hatched. You're a hatchling. The bad new is, you're part of the 50% that fell prey to predators like raccoons and seagulls and crabs. You didn't make it.

(girl) When I heard my color, I was upset because I wanted to be a surviving turtle.

(Describer) Cureau:

(Chuck) Where's my yellow stickers? Hey, congratulations, you made it from the nest to the water. But you're an itty bitty sea turtle and you didn't make the swim to protective cover. You're gonna have to go.

(Describer) They do.

All right, blue group, congratulations. You've made it pretty far. You've reached adulthood. But don't celebrate because it's a big, huge ocean and there's predators out there. You didn't make it either.

(Describer) They go.

And now for the green stickers. You guys are tough, right? You forgot about the human factor. I'm talking beach development, habitat destruction, pollution, fishing nets, fishing lines. You're gone. And the purple sticker. Now, of our original group, that 100%, you are the surviving 1%. Congratulations, you made it.

(boy) Realizing such a low percent of sea turtles live was crazy. To know a low percentage of them survive is very devastating.

(Describer) Dan Conklin:

(Dan Conklin) Only 1% of eggs laid in a sea turtle nest survive. When sea turtles are laying their eggs on the beach, the danger starts.

(Describer) Cureau:

This beach is a well-known sea turtle nesting area, but what's unusual about it-- it's a public beach but it's also a county park. Hello.

(Describer) People mark an area.

Park rangers identify the nest early on and guard them with protective barriers just like this. That protection is important. When a turtle digs its nest, it'll dig a deep hole for the eggs to drop into and then cover up the hole.

(Describer) Julie Moore:

The nest is left unprotected until the hatchlings emerge.

(Describer) The marked area has posts and signs. Cureau:

What could happen to an unprotected nest? We've designed a small experiment. First, we've identified a natural nesting area. Next, we dug three holes, simulating actual turtle nests. We placed fresh chicken eggs in each hole. Now it's time for the hidden cameras. Tell me what's going on. We got three cameras: one in the tree, two on the ground, all equipped with night vision capability.

(Describer) Righi:

If a predator came near, we can capture it on film.

(Chuck) What will become of our nests within a 48-hour period? We'll find out in a minute. First, what happens to turtles that do make it out of nest?

(Describer) Cureau:

You've just broken out of your shell, shaking off the sand; now you're ready to swim. But then comes the welcoming party, ah!

(Describer) Seagulls fly down.

Little hatchlings are easy pickings for birds, raccoons, crabs, and any predator with a taste for turtle.

(Dan) For the hatchlings that make it to sea, they disappear into the unknown. They head offshore for habitats that are basically floating rafts of seaweed well offshore.

(Describer) Cureau:

Surviving young sea turtles will swim farther out, but what happens next is pretty intense. Imagine you're a sea turtle, minding your own business, swimming along-- blub, blub, blub--and then bam!

(Describer) Someone points a leaf blower at Cureau:

it's as if I was caught up in a strong gust of wind.

(Describer) Subtitles: It's as if I was kind of a caught up in a really strong gust of wind!

(Describer) Only for the sea turtle, they're often caught up in a powerful offshore current.

Only for the sea turtle, they're often caught up in a powerful offshore current.

(Describer) And once they're caught up in this current, it's a wild ride!

Once they're caught up, it's a wild ride. Sea turtles travel these currents on migrations that can cover thousands of ocean miles.

(Describer) With stacks of documents...

Take a look at this. It's data on a single green sea turtle, Turtle X. Scientists have tracked sea turtles like Turtle X. While these coordinates might seem dry, let's see what happens when we bring those numbers to life. Turtle X started on the southeast coast. From there, she swam to the Azores. Her round-trip journey ends up being like if you walked from New York to Los Angeles and back again.

(Describer) Over 6000 miles.

It's a remarkable migration, but none of it takes place if the turtles don't make it. Let's see what's happening with our simulated nest experiment. For the first hours, our nests remain undisturbed, but then the human activity begins to pick up. At first, it's a few close calls, and then, wait for it, wait for it. Ooh, looks like that person just walked right on top of our next. Let's hope the covering of sand will protect the eggs from the weight. If this was one isolated incident, perhaps our nest would be spared, but during our 48-hour test, a large number of people walked unwittingly on top of our unmarked nests. We can only imagine what's happening to the eggs below. As the sun goes down, we're prepared for a bigger threat to egg survival-- nocturnal predators such as raccoons and crabs.

(Describer) Righi:

(Nick Righi) I camped by the nests and I heard raccoons, but I never saw them come near the nest.

(Chuck) Nest three camera caught this crab nibbling around, but that's the extent of predator activity. Come day two, the humans are out and all over nest one and two. Only nest three, built into the sea grass, goes completely untouched.

(Describer) Cureau:

As we excavate the nest, we're anticipating that we're gonna come across some losses here.

(Describer) He digs.

Let's check this out. Look here. This is an egg intact. Now, that's a really good thing, really good thing.

(Describer) He digs some more.

Oh yeah, look at this. Can you see that?

(Describer) Egg yolk.

Yeah, definitely some losses here. Not good. It's been 48 hours and this is what's happened. It gives you an idea what would happen over a multi-week period. This beach is a county park. An actual nest would've been identified and protected. Having more wildlife refuges like this one is vital if we're to help sea turtles overcome the odds against them. In carrying out our first experiment, we came up with another question: What's it like to crawl from the shore to the nest? There's only one way to find out: to be a sea turtle. I'll explain when we come back.

(Describer) Street:

Young sea turtles are vulnerable to predators and human threats, but they're also susceptible to weather. In the winter of 2010, a prolonged period of extreme cold threatened the survival of hundreds of sea turtles in Florida. Avoiding all-out disaster would require the effort and dedication that can only be described as heroic.

(Describer) Title: Turtles Turtles Everywhere. With Nate, Tim:

As aquarists, we spend a lot of time around pools like these.

(Describer) Nate:

We deal with a steady influx of sick and injured marine animals.

(Describer) Tim:

But not long ago, we experienced a situation that was anything but ordinary. Imagine these same pools filled with cold-stunned sea turtles. I'm talking turtles everywhere.

(Nate) More turtles than we'd seen in a lifetime,

(Describer) Nate:

and each one in need of critical care.

(Describer) A calendar turns to December.

(Tim) It started when a wave of Arctic air caused air and water temperatures to drop for two weeks in a row. Hundreds of sea turtles washed up along Florida beaches in a state of cold stress, which is a potentially deadly condition.

(Describer) Kate Spicer:

When it first started early January, we got one turtle in. The next day, we got two. After that, we were getting 50, 60, 70 turtles a day.

(Describer) Gary Violetta:

What happened was, as these animals were showing up, volunteers were walking the beaches, they'd find these animals, and they'd bring 'em by the truckload.

(Julie Moore) Lots of people were finding stranded sea turtles

(Describer) Moore:

in the inshore lagoon areas of Florida.

(Dan) A few turtles started coming in, which didn't surprise us,

(Describer) Conklin:

then more turtles came in, then trucks came in. It became a big operation quickly.

(Describer) Moore:

(Julie) Cold-stunned sea turtle means the internal body temperature of the turtle has dropped very dramatically. The turtle becomes slow and lethargic, they'll float on the surface, and they shut down all their body processes. In this event, we saw juvenile green sea turtles, and we also saw large adult sea turtles that we normally wouldn't see in this timeframe.

(Describer) Violetta:

(Gary Violetta) I haven't seen that many sea turtles in my entire life.

(Describer) Spicer:

(Kate Spicer) When the turtles are cold, they can't move around well, can't lift their heads to breathe.

(Describer) Moore:

We house these animals, warm up their systems through heating lamps and blankets. Once their temperatures reached a normal level, they were allowed to enter a water environment and we monitored their eating, if they were swimming well.

(Dan) Most of the sea turtles were cold-stunned.

(Describer) Conklin:

Some of them had more severe injuries that needed critical care.

(Describer) Spicer:

Those two weeks, we didn't take any days off.

(Dan) We were working around the clock in shifts to manage the turtles coming in.

(Describer) Moore:

(Julie) We would work 15, 16 hour days and wake up and do it again.

(Describer) Conklin:

We normally have a few people dedicated to sea turtles 24/7, 365 days a year. In this case, we needed all hands on deck.

(Describer) Violetta:

Other departments, like our maintenance and water quality departments, they were dropping whatever they were doing to come over, helping us build aquariums, plumb aquariums, run electrical.

(Describer) Conklin:

Some tasks that you don't think are essential, are doing a lot of laundry.

(Describer) Spicer:

The amount of laundry needed for 300 turtles is a lot. They get stinky after a day, so towels and tarps had to be changed every day.

(Describer) Moore:

I think everyone that helped us was very excited to get hands-on with the animals, and we were so grateful to have that extra help.

(Describer) Turtles are loaded.

(Dan) On release day, we loaded up the turtles into the truck.

(Julie) We released a semitruck full of turtles within one morning.

(Describer) Moore:

Releasing that many animals-- when we release one sea turtle, it's very important and rewarding. So, when you release 40 in one day, it's amazing.

(Dan) The first wave of turtles released in Juneau Beach was a very festive event.

(Describer) Spicer:

(Kate) You're going, you stop and look around and you see people helping you. It makes you stop and go, "Wow, this is pretty cool."

(Dan) The upside was we tagged a lot of turtles that we wouldn't have before.

(Describer) Moore:

(Julie) It gave information as to where turtles are this time of year, where they might go, and if we encounter them, where they've been and a history on them.

(Describer) A wave slides into a big turtle on the sand. Conklin:

(Dan) When they were coming in, it was a challenge, we felt an obligation and a responsibility to help them. Any turtle we save will help the population recover.

(Describer) Moore:

This was one of the most memorable events in my career.

(Describer) Spicer:

We saw that we could do a lot.

(Dan) It was a great feeling to see people coming together and putting turtles back in their natural environment.

(Describer) Violetta:

It was a tremendous effort. In a two-month period, approximately 300 sea turtles were rescued, rehabbed, and released by this group of people-- a truly phenomenal event.

(Describer) Street:

(Bill Street) It's an incredible story. All the turtles released were tagged for tracking. They'll provide information critical to the scientific study of these amazing animals. Let's return to the beach where Chuck Cureau shows us a turtle-eye view of the journey back to the nesting grounds.

(Describer) Title: Against the Odds, Part 2. Cureau:

(Chuck) It's time for this adult to return home and make new sea turtles. Easy, right? Anyone who's ever set up chairs on the beach can definitely relate to this next challenge.

(Describer) In the water...

You go out for a swim, but you forget that you're floating with the current.

(Describer) On the beach...

Suddenly, you're looking like crazy trying to find your spot. I know it's around here somewhere. You're disoriented after floating a couple hundred yards. Sea turtles travel halfway around the world to find a home stretch of shoreline they haven't seen since they were hatchlings.

(Describer) Violetta:

No one is sure how the turtles get back to the beach they hatched on. They travel thousands of miles, and still end up in the same place they left. It could be sensitivity to magnetic fields, but somehow they get right back to the same spot where they started.

(Describer) Cureau:

Once they find their way back, males and females will mate in the waters offshore. The female sea turtle still has a final turtle hurdle. A creature weighing several hundred pounds and built for sea travel has to crawl to the nesting area. Sometimes that can be quite a haul. To help illustrate, we've enlisted the help of four high school students. Hayden, Dan, Monica, and Evie, are you guys ready for this?

(all) Yeah! You are, but first off, you need to put on your turtle backpacks. Go ahead, put 'em on. This is gonna help simulate the weight and inflexibility of a sea turtle shell.

(Describer) They put on big heavy backpacks and secure the straps around them.

(Chuck) All right, looking good. Now, get this-- imagine, if you will, that you're a female sea turtle. You imagining that? You've just swum thousands of miles, now you gotta go from the shoreline to the nesting area.

(Describer) the grass.

Do that, but not with your legs. Lay down on the ground belly down. Belly down. All the way down.

(Describer) They obey.

Now, on your mark, get set, go. And they're off, like a bunch of turtles.

(Describer) They crawl over the sand. Dan:

(Dan) When I was told we had to crawl on our bellies up there, I thought, not that far, but I was dead wrong.

(Chuck) Tough, huh? The good news is you're not even halfway there.

(Hayden) With the weight of the shell, I could barely move.

(Describer) Hayden:

(Describer) Cureau:

(Chuck) Hayden has taken a lead, but Dan is not far behind, just by a flipper.

(Describer) Evie:

It was tougher than expected.

(Describer) Cureau:

Push, come on.

(Evie) You got tired halfway up. I didn't think I would make it.

(Chuck) You got it, Evie.

(Dan) It worked every muscle in your body.

(Evie) I don't know how turtles do this.

(Describer) Evie:

Four years of band camp couldn't even compare to this.

(Describer) Hayden gets to a sign. He stands.


(Describer) Cureau:

Great job, guys. Hayden was the first one to make it. I would say he's the winner, but you're not done yet. Sea turtles dig their nest using only their hind flippers.

(Describer) Evie:

(Evie) When Chuck told us to dig with our feet, I was shocked.

(Describer) Dan:

I didn't think he would make us dig with our feet, but he did.

(Describer) Hayden:

I can't believe how long it took to dig; it hurt.

(Describer) Dan:

(Dan) It was more challenging than expected. I can't even imagine how turtles would do this every year.

(Describer) By Evie...

We've got ourselves a winner.

(Describer) They stand. Cureau:

Great job team, our nest digging champion today is Evie. Yay. The rest of y'all were good, but I've got a question for you. Who has a newfound appreciation for sea turtles?

(Describer) They all raise their hands. A mother turtle crawls back to the water.

I don't think we'll have any annual sea turtle crawl marathons, but we did what we set out to do. Everyone's got an understanding of how tough and tenacious sea turtles really are.

(Describer) Cureau walks away from the signs marking the nesting areas. Street:

Sea turtles face tough odds no matter what, but with so many humans encroaching in sea turtle feeding and nesting areas, the odds could be just about impossible. Julie Scardina shows how humans could be the ruin or salvation of endangered sea turtles.

(Describer) Title: Saving Sea Turtles. Scardina:

(Julie Scardina) The beaches of Nicaragua provide prime nesting areas for sea turtles, but many beaches are far from safe havens. We're in Nicaragua. We've been here all night. It's 8 o'clock, the hatchlings are still coming out. This is a brand-new nest-- probably 100, over 100 eggs, and these guys are going to the ocean. To keep hatchlings away from hungry daytime predators, we'll protect them for now, then release them once night falls. This should give them a fighting chance. However, here in Nicaragua, as in many beaches around the world, natural predators are only part of the problem. With so much poverty in the world, sea turtles and their eggs are frequently harvested illegally in a practice called poaching.

(Describer) Yaritza Aponte:

(Yaritza Aponte) I am an ambassador for the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to work with Fauna and Flora. In Nicaragua, we are going to communities and teaching kids about the importance of not eating eggs and not poaching sea turtles.

(Julie) Yaritza goes to schools sharing a message she hopes will spread from the kids out to the entire community. As her experience in one village makes clear, the message of saving sea turtles might be a tough sell.

(Describer) Aponte:

We were asking them, "What do you know about sea turtles?" The only responses I got were, "Oh, we eat the eggs. They're better than chicken eggs," or "Their meat, it's amazing. It's better than fish."

(Julie) To counter these traditional views, Yaritza shares the plight of endangered sea turtles. She provides information about other food sources that offer viable alternatives to poaching.

(Describer) Aponte:

(Yaritza) You can tell at the end of the workshop, honestly from the heart, apologizing for eating eggs and promising they're not gonna do it in the future.

(Julie) Education in third world countries like Nicaragua can make a huge difference. However, back home, the need for increased awareness is just as critical. In the U.S., poaching isn't an issue, but human encroachment is. Consider these beach homes, all a source of distracting and harmful artificial light to sea turtles.

(Describer) Conklin:

(Dan Conklin) When we have lights along the beaches, baby turtles that are hatching at night go towards the lights where they can be run over or eaten. If the lights weren't there, they could've made it, perhaps, into the ocean.

(Julie) Our love of water and proximity to beaches creates all kinds of unintended hazards. Beachgoers unknowingly trample invisible turtle nests, and then some leave litter. See this plastic bag? To a sea turtle, this looks like a jellyfish. Plastic caught in the digestive tract of a sea turtle is a known killer. Then there's entanglement. Discarded fishing line can easily ensnare, cripple, and drown a sea turtle.

(Describer) Scardina:

The human threats here are different from in Nicaragua, but like in third world countries, the solution comes with education and you can play a big part. When somebody asks you, "Paper or plastic?" tell them you brought your own. If you're fishing, make sure you keep the cut line with you. Never toss monofilament line overboard. Use fishing line recycling bins that are found on public docks, piers, and marinas. And if strolling a beach, always be on the lookout for litter. Just picking up a few stray pieces could make all the difference in the life of a sea turtle. Not near a beach? Trash has a habit of traveling from land, to rivers, and out to sea. No matter where you live, be on the lookout. You can still make a difference.

(Describer) A sea turtle swims underwater. Street:

Let's turn back to our experts for a recap--what we call our "Saving a Species" wild round. Each expert has 15 seconds to give a final overview of their top content takeaways. Remember, 15 seconds, starting now.

(Describer) Tim:

Sea turtles, they're amazing creatures that have been around for millions of years; they are adapted specifically for living in all oceans, yet for the first time, they are threatened by extinction and need our help.

(Describer) Cureau:

Sea turtles are resilient animals. When they're hatchlings, they face land predators. Once they hit the water, there's predators there as well. If they make it to adulthood, they swim thousands of miles to mate. And the human factors--

(Describer) Nate:

Sea turtles are cold-blooded animals. They're susceptible to colder temperatures. Man has to help them out. They are well adapted to the marine environment. They can be 2,000 pounds, can hold their breath for hours, have a shell for protection, and they travel vast distances in the ocean.

(Describer) Street:

We learned about sea turtle populations and their incredible journeys from the nest, to the sea, and back again. We also saw some of the threats endangering sea turtles and what we can do to improve their chances of survival. We've just touched the surface of what there is to know. To learn more about sea turtles, visit We'll post activities, games, and behind-the-scenes videos to inspire you to make a difference in the lives of sea turtles. I'm Bill Street saying thanks for watching and for your part in "Saving a Species."

(Describer) Title: Sea World / Busch Garden Conservation Fund. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Sea turtles are found in oceans around the world, and they face many challenges throughout their life cycle. Even before they hatch, these reptiles face tremendous odds against surviving to maturity. Students learn ways to help save this endangered and threatened species. Part of the "Saving a Species" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 31 minutes

Saving a Species
Episode 1
30 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 9
Saving a Species
Episode 2
28 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 9
Saving a Species
Episode 3
31 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 9