Tourism and the coastal development
The building of large touristic resorts and the expansion of urban areas in coastal areas have largely contributed to changes seen in nesting grounds.
The main problems caused by human settlement near nesting beaches include artificial lighting (lack of natural light on the beaches), traffic of motorized vehicles, as well as people, predation and destruction of nests by domestic animals and loss of nesting areas to sand mining.
The fact that the nesting season coincides with the peak of summer holidays in many regions is also worrying. This coincided with the increase of beach furniture and constructions on the nesting beaches, leading to increased pressure and habitat reduction.
The replenishment of sand to the beaches affected by erosion might also poses a problem to the sea turtles. The characteristics of the new sand (such as granulometry, organic composition and compaction) might interfere with nest building by the females or with the incubation environment of the eggs.
High-rise buildings and plantations might also significantly decrease the availability of natural light on the beaches during nesting. This could cause a decrease in the average temperature of the sand which in turn would affect the natural sex ratioin each clutch.
Vehicle traffic on the beaches during nesting is another threat to sea turtles. The compaction of the sand makes it harder for the hatchlings to come up to the surface after egg hatching. The tyre tracks on the sand also make their journey to the sea more difficult, and the risk of both adults and hatchlings to being run over is constant.
The degradation of the seashore environment may also indirectly affect the survival of sea turtles by damaging foraging habitats and by affecting the food chain on which they rely on. The destruction of algae banks and coral reefs as well as the local extinction of species on which the turtles feed on might have drastic consequences.
The development of real estate on coastal areas and subsequent habitat modification is a serious concern, since this may negatively impact the turtle’s nesting behaviour. Possible changes would include a change in nesting location, or even too many females laying their eggs in one specific location, which could lead to a low hatching success rate.