The Impact of Having A Turtle Make It To The Water
At this point, most WoW players already know the popular meme "A turtle made it to the water" from the
World Quest. The quest, narrated by
, has you shoot down Albatrosses and Crabs to protect young juvenile turtles and help them reach the water.
While these little turtles have generated a plethora of content around the internet,
including a music video
, we've decided to look deeper into the quest itself. What is the ecological impact on Azeroth from saving thousands of baby turtles every day? Most of those, due to their predators, would, sadly, not make it to the water, since the cycle of life can be cruel. However, we change this cycle by allowing (mostly) every turtle make their way to the water.
To help us with this research, we
submitted a question to Greg Street
, also known as
, currently Head of Creative Development at Riot Games and was, previously, Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft. However, before starting in the gaming industry, Ghostcrawler was an oceanographer, with a Ph.D. in marine science.
Battle for Azeroth added a new World Quest called Beachhead. This quest, offered by the new Tortolan faction (tortoise-esque humanoids), asks you to protect juvenile turtles as they made their way from their nests to the water, which means you end up having to kill wildlife predators like seagulls and crabs. Being an oceanographer, Do you have any insights on the impact of doing such task in mass would cause? Both increasing the turtle population and reducing the predatory one?
Azeroth has its own ecosystem (where crabs have six legs, whale sharks have giant teeth, etc.) so real world examples may not apply.
In the real world, seagulls are thriving and crabs are generally doing fine, while 6 of Earth’s 7 sea turtle species are endangered. The causes include habitat loss (including light pollution), the fishing industry (which doesn’t often target turtles but still catches plenty), and garbage in our oceans. Those three factors are directly related to humans. So, pretty much sea turtles need all the help they can get.
Looking at ecology at large (not counting turtles specifically), removing predators can often cause a population explosion of prey species, especially prey that evolved with high reproductive rates to overcome high predation pressure. Witness the explosion of urban deer in the USA because wolves and mountain lions are at much lower populations than they were historically.
Other species are more limited by available food or habitat. I suspect in the case of turtles, that their populations could never get that large because of these other factors. There are only so many beaches in the world upon which to lay eggs, and only so many jellyfish in the ocean to eat. There are reports of early Europeans arriving on wooden ships being kept awake because of the number of turtles bonking into their hulls all night, so clearly they once were much more abundant.
Caveat: I haven’t been an oceanographer for about 20 years now, so my understanding of some of these issues could be outdated.
Thanks, Ghostcrawler for the detailed and insightful answer!
With that, the conclusion we can take is that we're performing a good act to the environment when we help 🐢 A 🐢 TURTLE 🐢 MAKE 🐢 IT 🐢 TO 🐢 THE 🐢 WATER 🐢, don't you agree?
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