Natural Threats
Over the millions of years of their existence, turtles have survived major changes in the world's climate and coastlines. Beaches around volcanic islands have exploded into oblivion, coral reefs have provided cays and atolls with new beaches, and huge changes in sea level have left present nesting beaches either tens of meters above or beneath the sea. They also face a host of other less catastrophic natural threats to eggs, hatchlings and adults.

Hatchlings predated by fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Photo: © 1991 R. Salm

This sea turtle has lost a flipper to a shark, and cannot dig a nest to lay its eggs.
In fact, the odds are so heavily stacked against turtles that only one or two of the many thousands of eggs laid by a female through its lifetime will produce a breeding adult.

Considering the great odds against their survival, it is remarkable that turtles have survived successfully for so long, seeing countless other species lapse into extinction along the way. Some examples of the natural threats faced by turtles include predators (e.g. foxes, raccoons, rats), flooding of nests by high seas and rain water run off, and washout of egg clutches from natural seasonal beach erosion.

Nest predated by fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Hatchlings must run a difficult gauntlet on their way to the sea, with seagulls, ravens, ghost crabs, feral dogs and foxes. In the sea many a carnivorous fish or seabird will make a tasty meal of them. It is thought that only about two or three hatchlings in 10,000 actually survive to maturity at about 30 to 50 years of age. As adults their only predators are sharks, humans and sometimes seals.

Text adapted from "Sea Turtles in the Sultanate of Oman", with kind permission of Rod and Susan Salm.