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Green Sea Turtles

Green sea turtles all over the world are dying from a disease.

Green sea turtles all over the world are dying from a disease. The name of the disease has many letters in it. It is very hard to say. The turtle disease is fibropapilloma (FY bro PAP il LO ma) tumors.

Fibropapillomas are very serious. Turtles can die from them. When turtles have the disease they get ugly white lumps. These lumps are the tumors. Tumors grow on the soft body parts of turtles. This is what they look like.

Green sea turtles affected by tumorsAs the turtle gets sicker, more and more tumors grow. The tumors can get as big as a head of cauliflower. Tumors can grow over a turtle's eyes and blind it. Tumors can make it hard for turtles to swim and find food. Tumors make it much harder for a turtle to survive.

Younger turtles are called juveniles. Many juvenile turtles are dying from this disease. Fibropapillomas are especially hard on them.

places where sea turtles with fibropapillomas have been found. Here is a map of the world showing all the places where sea turtles with fibropapillomas have been found.

There are turtle scientists all over the world trying to stop the disease. Dr. Larry Herbst is one scientist who studies fibropapillomas. Each red dot on this map is a place where he has found out that the turtles have tumors. Dr. Herbst and other scientists know fibropapillomas can kill sea turtles. They think it is a sad way for a turtle to die.

Some turtle scientists have noticed that the disease often shows up where the ocean water is bad. Ocean water isn't naturally bad. People make it that way by not being careful.

Many people are careless and let sewage go right into the ocean. They think the ocean is big and can hold a lot of sewage. Many countries treat the ocean like a watery garbage dump.

Animal sewage also gets into the ocean. Sometimes rain washes manure into a stream that runs into the ocean. Sometimes it runs into ditches that lead to the ocean.

Most farmers use chemicals to kill bugs and grow crops. When it rains, these chemicals can wash out of the plants and soil. From there it runs into ditches or streams. If this drains into the ocean, it is called run-off. This can be as bad for the turtles as sewage is.

Green Sea TurtlesTurtle scientists are finding many sick turtles around places where there are sewage and run-off problems. Many scientists are working hard to help turtles by telling people not to pollute the ocean.


This story is about one turtle but it is too late to help him. The turtle's name is Howzit. He is a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Howzit first settled down to live in Hawaii in 1992. Read more

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