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Blog Tags: Sea Turtles

Endangered Sea Turtles Imperiled by Oil Spill

kemp's ridley sea turtle

Image via Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, more than 20 dead Kemp's ridley sea turtles washed up on Mississippi’s shores. While there is no evidence the deaths are linked to the oil spill, the incident may be merely foreshadowing what’s to come for sea turtles in the Gulf.

Sea turtles come to the surface to breathe, and NOAA reports that between 30 and 50 sea turtles (species unknown) were seen swimming yesterday in or near the oil spill. It may be only a matter of time until we see oiled turtles stranded on beaches as well.

Kemp’s ridleys, the smallest and most threatened sea turtle in the world, typically spend their entire lives in the Gulf of Mexico, nesting only on beaches in Mexico and southern Texas, giving them the name the “Gulf’s Sea Turtle”. And right now is the peak migration season for the turtles as they return to their nesting grounds.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Suzanne Thurman

suzanne thurman merr

Suzanne Thurman with a Kemp's ridley sea turtle. © Kevin Fleming

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Starting today, I’ll be highlighting one finalist per day on the blog. First up is Suzanne Thurman, the founder and director of the Marine, Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. (MERR), Delaware’s only organization devoted to the response and rescue of marine mammals and sea turtles.

Suzanne has been participating in stranding response in Delaware since 1995, and before that, she worked for many years in environmental education and special education.

MERR, which is 10 years old this year, has provided stranding response to more than 1000 animals, beginning with one sea turtle that spent the night in Suzanne’s laundry room.


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Oil Spill Threatens Hundreds of Species

It just keeps getting worse.

A NOAA scientist has concluded that oil is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, five times the initial 1,000 per-day estimate. And a third leak was discovered yesterday afternoon. 

If the estimates are correct, the spill, which is nearly the size of Jamaica, could match or exceed the 11 million gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez within two months -- becoming the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

 


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Earth Day Blue Link Bonanza

planet earth

Happy Earth Day!

Since there’s so much going on today, here’s a list of things you can do right now to protect the blue marble we call home. Enjoy!

1. Support a ‘safe zone’ for Pacific leatherbacks.

Tell the government to expand critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles to more than 70,000 square miles off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Comments are due tomorrow, April 23, so please voice your support today.

2. Take action with Sigourney on ocean acidification.

Sigourney Weaver is testifying before a Senate Committee today on the effects of ocean acidification on marine life and our economy.

You can take action too -- tell your representative to support a Congressional resolution that will support policies to study and address the effects of ocean acidification.

3. Stop expanded offshore drilling.

An oil rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana exploded Tuesday, in what could be one of the country’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past 50 years. Seventeen people were injured in the blast.

Tell your senator today that you won’t stand for expanded offshore drilling.

4. Bid and text for the oceans.

Today is Christie’s Green Auction, which benefits Oceana, Conservation International, NRDC and Central Park Conservancy. Check out the online auction items, or for a cheaper option, you can text “GoGreen” to 20222 to make a $10 donation today.


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And the Winner is...

Lori Albrecht and her two children. (Photo courtesy Lori Albrecht)

Of the nearly 9,000 of you who entered to win the Ocean IQ Quiz grand prize drawing, the winner is… (drum roll, please)

Lori Albrecht!

I spoke to Lori by phone yesterday and was thrilled to learn that she is passionate about ocean conservation -- particularly sea turtles.

The grand prize, an eco-vacation with SEE Turtles, happens to be a perfect fit. While she can’t take any more time off this year, she said she’s excited to choose a trip in 2011, and is already eyeing the trip to Costa Rica.

On a trip to Hawaii last year, she saw her first sea turtle while snorkeling. “It was incredible, I could hear him crunching, eating the algae off the rocks,” she said. “He turned and looked at me and kept right on eating. It was fascinating. I fell in love with them.”


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New Study: Millions of Sea Turtles Caught Globally

sea turtle x-ray

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

The first ever global assessment of sea turtle bycatch came out this week in the journal Conservation Letters -- and it’s not pretty.

The study found that 85,000 sea turtles were reported caught by commercial fisheries worldwide over the last 20 years, but the scientists estimate that the actual number is two orders of magnitude higher than that -- in the millions.

The 85,000 figure only accounts for sea turtle bycatch that was reported, but the actual number of turtles caught is significantly higher because typically less than 1% of fleets have fishing observed and many small scale fisheries have no observer coverage at all.

The study looked at sea turtles caught by gillnets, longlines and trawls, three of the most commonly used fishing gear types. The bottom line here is that the number of sea turtles caught as bycatch is enormous. Without additional bycatch reduction and better enforcement of established protections, many sea turtle populations may go extinct.


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Loggerheads Get a Boost

loggerhead sea turtle

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

We're celebrating a big win yesterday for loggerhead sea turtles.

In response to two petitions submitted in 2007 by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, yesterday the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to change the status of North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

The government also proposed listing loggerhead sea turtles around the globe as nine separate populations, each with its own threatened or endangered status.

The change in listing status means the populations are in danger of extinction and will trigger a legal requirement for proposed critical habitat, an important step in achieving improved protections for key nesting beaches and migratory and feeding habitat in the ocean. 


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Calling All Ocean Geeks: What's Your Ocean IQ?

sea turtle hatchling

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

Got the winter blues? In need of intellectual stimulation, or a vacation to a tropical destination -- or both? Or are you just a proud ocean geek? Either way, it's your lucky day.

Yesterday we launched our brand new Ocean IQ Quiz, where you can use your ocean smarts to win prizes -- including a trip to Baja California.

After you take the quiz, you'll have a chance to enter the sweepstakes to win a slew of prizes. The grand prize winner will travel with ecotourism organization SEE Turtles on an exclusive eco-adventure to observe sea turtles in the wild.

And the other prizes are not too shabby either: Nintendo Wiis with a copy of the ocean exploration game Endless Ocean, plus dive watches, gift cards and rope bracelets from Nautica.

Plus, this pop quiz is open-note. You can beef up your score by utilizing our Explore section, and you can take multiple quizzes if you're one of those over-achiever types.

So go on, test your ocean IQ! I know you want to. And all the cool kids are doing it.


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A Tough Winter for Turtles

green sea turtle

A green sea turtle at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Island, NC. The center often takes in cold-stunned turtles. © Jeff Janowski/Oceana

This winter has been a doozy around the country, and not just for humans. On Tuesday, The Miami Herald published a letter to the editor from Oceana's chief scientist Mike Hirshfield on the effect of this year's harsh winter on sea turtles. Check it out:

Officials are calling this one of the worst years on record for sea turtle strandings in the United States. Approximately 2,500 sea turtles have been found wounded or dead as a result of cold-stunning in the increasing frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Volunteers are busily scouring the coastline for sea turtles that can be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild, and rescue centers are becoming inundated with sea turtles fighting for survival.

To a scientist, it all makes perfect, if unfortunate, sense. Cold-blooded reptiles like sea turtles are simply unable to warm themselves in cold water. While sea turtles are commonly found in northern U.S. waters during the summer and early fall, they typically migrate to warmer climates by late October. Unfortunately, not all of them made it out before the area temperatures dropped to unbearable levels, and with a winter like we are having, it is bound to be a deadly scenario.


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Kate Walsh on Jimmy Kimmel Live

kate walsh sea turtle

Kate Walsh swims with a green sea turtle. © Tim Calver

Last night our favorite TV doctor and sea turtle lover Kate Walsh appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Jimmy displayed a photo of Kate swimming alongside a sea turtle from her trip with Oceana to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kate fought back giggles -- that Jimmy Kimmel, such a jokester -- to explain why she loves sea turtles.

After you watch the clip, don't forget to check out her PSA, slideshows and bonus footage of Kate at http://na.oceana.org/en/turtlesoffthehook.


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