Aye, Sea Turtles: Malaysia’s Craving for Turtle Eggs Pushes Them Closer to Extinction
Do you have a taste for exotic food? Well, then you might be interested in knowing that the overconsumption of certain species may soon wipe them completely off the menu. In this case, I’m talking about Sea Turtles.
Sea Turtle eggs are viewed as a delicacy in Malaysia. Hundreds of thousands of them are consumed there every year. Unfortunately, this could mean the extinction of sea turtles—at least on Malaysia’s beaches. Why? Well, consider this: Sea Turtles lay eggs. Those hatchlings need to actually be able to hatch and make it out to sea if they’re going to have even a fighting chance of survival. Eating those eggs before the baby turtles can hatch eliminates all chances of that happening. The same could be said of any egg-laying creature—which, yes, includes chickens.
Their population is certainly on the decline and it shows. In the past, you could find thousands of turtles laying eggs on Malaysia’s shores. Now, they are extremely rare, thanks to coastal development and poaching. According to Dionysius S.K. Sharma, executive director of WWF-Malaysia:
“One of the contributing factors to the Leatherback Turtles’ disappearance from our shores is egg consumption.” … “We wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to our green and hawksbill turtles.”
A report created by TRAFFIC Southeast Asia estimated that 422,000 eggs were traded in Terengganu alone, in 2007. That’s over double the number of green turtle eggs actually laid in the state. Eggs had to be brought in from outside sources to meet the high consumer demand.
Conservation groups are making great efforts to have the Malaysian government place a nationwide ban on the consumption and commercial sale of turtle eggs. For information on the sea turtles and how you may be able to help, you can check out the Save Our Seas Foundation and Wild Asia’s Save Our Sea Turtles Campaign.
By Heidi Marshall