The California Senate designated the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle as California’s official state marine reptile and declare October 15 every year as Leatherback Conservation Day. Oceana was a sponsor and supporter of the bill, and generated statewide support from thousands of California citizens and more than 30 conservation entities including the California Fish and Game Commission. The bill is intended to recognize the importance of California state waters to the survival and recovery of this ancient sea turtle species.
The National Marine Fisheries Service finalized protection of 41,914 square miles of protected critical ocean habitat off the shores of Washington, Oregon and California for the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The final rule establishes critical habitat in areas where leatherbacks feed on jellyfish after swimming 6,000 miles across the ocean from nests in Indonesia. This is the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks designated in continental U.S. waters and is the largest area set aside to protect sea turtle habitat in the United States or its territories.
The final protection comes in response to a petition submitted in 2007 by Oceana, Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center, followed by two years of delay by the agency, missing multiple legal deadlines specified in the Endangered Species Act.