Sea turtles have many recognized functions in the development and preservation of the nature and the dynamics of marine ecosystems. They are a vital part of the interspecific interactions of marine ecosystems, as prey competitor, consumer as well as host. They are also important channels for nutrient and energy exchange between and within ecosystems. Additionally, they can significantly alter the physical structure marine ecosystems.
Sea turtles play an integral element in the food web on the planet and are essential for the wellbeing of the oceans. By eating other species, sea turtles can regulate a variety of other. Green turtles, for example are mainly a seagrass eater. They stop seagrass from growing excessively long and too dense by grazing on meadows of seagrass. Seagrass beds that are well-managed and healthy provide many ecosystem benefits. They provide an ideal nursery for a variety of marine species, and also serve as an oxygen source and carbon sink for the ocean.
Hawksbill turtles are yet another instance of a turtle that is concentrated on eating sponges. They are vital to a healthy coral reef, keeping fast-growing sponges at bay and giving slower growing corals the chance to grow. Coral reefs are believed to be the most diverse ecosystem on earth that provides shelter and habitat for thousands marine creatures. Coral reefs house numerous species of fish, including juvenile fish that spawn there. The coral reefs also provide shelter for fish that are young before they are moved to deeper waters when they are mature. Coral reefs also protect shorelines from waves and storms and are an important revenue generator for many nations through tourism.
Leatherbacks eat jellyfish. Keeping the jellyfish population under control is vital. Jellyfish feed on fish eggs and larvae, which means that having too many jellyfish could mean less fish.
Loggerheads feed on hard-shelled prey, such as crustaceans. They break down shells, and speed up the rate of disintegration. This increases the rate for nutrient recycling in the ocean bottom ecosystems.
Many marine creatures also utilize sea turtles as their habitat! Barnacles, algae and small creatures called epibionts attach themselves to the turtles. By transporting them around, sea turtles are the food sources for shrimp and fish. Certain fish species depend on epibionts from sea turtles for their food.
Additionally, sea turtles provide an important source of food for other species, particularly during their early stages of life. Ants, crabsand rats as well as raccoons and foxes coyotes, feral cats, mongoose, vultures and dogs are recognized for digging into turtle eggs that have not been laid and the eggs provide a nutrient-rich source of food. The food source of numerous seabirds, fish and invertebrates is the young turtle. Sea turtles that are adults are preyed upon by sharks and killer whales.
Eggshells that have not been hatched and empty eggs that remain in nests on beaches are a fertilizer for plants on the beach. They supply nutrients for the growth of plants and helps stabilize the shoreline and offer food to a range of animal species that eat plants.
Sea turtles can migrate long distances so they are essential to keeping diversity alive and growing in the oceans. They carry the species that live on them away from the seagrass beds, reefs and open oceans.
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