WHO WE ARE

Welcome to the team. Carapace Alliance was founded in 2018 by a group of passionate environmentalists who came together with one mission in mind: to educate the public about green sea turtle fibropapillomatosis or GTFP, a pandemic disease that affects upwards of 70% of green turtles in regional populations. 

The green sea turtle species (Chelonia mydas) is symbolically sacred and is often illustrated as a sentinel of the sea in storied origins of the Earth. Although the species has a lifespan of nearly a century, it is both threatened and/or endangered due to anthropogenic impacts. Beyond our understanding of measurable dangers, green sea turtle alphaherpesvirus-associated GTFP is one of the largest threats to tropical and subtropical Atlantic and Pacific populations. The epizootiology of the condition is poorly understood by scientists and veterinary professionals.

Photograph by Kristin Hettermann

What is green sea turtle fibropapillomatosis?

GTFP is a tumorous disease that was first noted in 1938 in Key West, Florida, and mostly affects nearshore habitats and juvenile green turtles at a 92% affliction rate in some populations. The condition has turned up in Australia, Japan, Brazil, and is documented in the Caribbean, the Gulf, Texas, Hawaii, and Florida. The prevalence of GTFP is low in pelagic turtles, which suggests that invasive microalgae, poor habitat quality, and eutrophication may be multifactorial drivers. Similarly, ectotherm immune function is strongly influenced by temperature, so warming ocean and coastal waters are plausibly impacting green turtle immunity; some researchers hypothesize that parasites serve as mechanical vectors of the virus.

Photograph by Kristin Hettermann

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