Sea turtles are long-living reptiles characterized by slow growth, late sexual maturity and high mortality rates during their first developmental stages (eggs, hatchlings, juveniles). For this reason, sea turtles are considered extremely vulnerable to every kind of over-exploitation, and population recovery can take decades.
At present there are seven species of marine turtles in the world, five of which can be found in the Egyptian Red Sea: the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the olive-ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).
All these species are listed in the IUCN Red List either as critically endangered (hawksbill turtles), endangered (green turtles) and vulnerable (leatherback, loggerhead and olive-ridley turtles).
Furthermore, they are all listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International trade of Endangered Species (CITES) which forbids their trade in signatory countries.
While green and hawksbill turtles are known to nest and feed along the Egyptian coastline, olive-ridley, loggerhead and leatherback turtles are seen more sporadically and only in the feeding areas.