We’re already gearing up for this year’s first official Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day on October 15! When Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1776 into law last year, he declared an official celebratory day for the Pacific leatherback sea turtle and made it the state’s marine reptile, in order to increase awareness and conservation of this endangered species. With the support of the state of California, we are working with state and federal agencies and other conservation organizations here and abroad to facilitate an official California-Indonesia leatherback partnership to better protect this amazing sea turtle at every stage of its lifecycle, from hatchling to adult.
This coalition is planning and organizing the first ever bi-national leatherback summit, which will bring political and scientific leaders from Indonesia and the United States to Monterey, California to discuss current conservation efforts taking place in these regions and to determine how we can best secure and share resources to conserve and manage this imperiled population of sea turtles effectively.
So, what is so important about the Pacific leatherback sea turtle?
Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) have roamed the oceans for over 100 million years, with very few changes to their behavior and physiology, and are essentially living dinosaurs, although leatherbacks fared much better than other dinosaurs. Unlike other turtles, leatherbacks lack a bony shell and can grow to over 2,000 lbs. Theses creatures migrate 6,000 miles across the Pacific each year, from nesting beaches in Indonesia to foraging areas off California's coast where they feast on the massive jellyfish populations. Females lay clutches of around 100 eggs, but very few of the hatchlings actually survive to adulthood, which makes protection of each individual turtle exponentially more important.
We are already eagerly anticipating October 15 and the recognition of these incredible creatures and the threats that they face. Leatherback turtles are some of the world's most ancient creatures; let's work to ensure that they continue to swim our oceans for generations to come. Join us in our fight to give leatherbacks a future!