Sea turtles have inhabited Earth for 110 million years, but today they are an endangered species.
They are “a great indicator of the health of our oceans,” says Lynne Byrd, medical care coordinator at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. “So if something is affecting sea turtles, it’s going to eventually affect us humans.”
Turtles are endangered because of interactions with humans and also because of the contagious fibropapillomatosis virus, which causes life-threatening tumors.
Now, with help from more than $57,000 in grants from Wells Fargo, scientists at Mote are helping sea turtles fight extinction by treating them for the virus and injuries sustained by boat propellers, fishing debris, plastics, and more. They’re also tracking characteristics of the virus to help stop it from affecting others.