The Beacon

Leatherbacks Closer to Becoming CA Symbol

© NOAA

More good news for sea turtles today: The endangered leatherback sea turtle swam one lap closer today to becoming California’s official marine reptile.

The California Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife voted unanimously today that this ocean ambassador should be an additional state symbol. This is exciting news as the bill heads next to the Assembly floor where all 80 Assemblymembers will vote to determine if the bill moves to the state Senate.

Leatherbacks are truly an impressive species and an important part of the marine ecosystem. Once they reach maturity, leatherback sea turtles swim over 6,000 miles from their nesting beaches in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands to waters off California’s coast to feed on jellyfish.

California waters are a globally important foraging area for leatherbacks and these endangered species are an ecologically important part of the marine ecosystem. In recognition of new scientific information demonstrating the importance of California waters to the survival of Pacific leatherbacks, the National Marine Fisheries Service recently designated nearly 42,000 square miles off the US West Coast as critical habitat, including 16,910 square miles off California’s coast.

Oceana co-authored the petition and weighed in heavily during this 5 year process leading to the final designation to help ensure ensure these awe-inspiring animals are not wiped out by human impacts to their key feeding areas.

Thank you to all of you California Wavemakers who signed the letter of support to your local representative letting them know your support for this legislation. This is truly a time to celebrate the leatherback.

Stay tuned!


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