Blog Tags: Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Ocean News: Great Barrier Reef Will be “Pretty Ugly” by 2050, Sea Turtle Nests Down in South Carolina, and More
- In an appearance before an Australian Senate this week, researchers said the Great Barrier Reef will be “pretty ugly” by 2050 and that "the reef is in the worse [sic] state it's ever been in since records began." The researchers linked the decline to coastal development and government action, specifically nothing their approval of a dredging and dumping project around the Reef. The Huffington Post
Today, the federal government designated thousands of miles of beaches and open ocean around the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States as critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles. The area, which covers 685 miles of nesting beach from North Carolina to Mississippi and more than 300,000 square miles of ocean habitat from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest designation to-date of critical habitat—making this ruling a victory and a historic step for loggerhead sea turtle recovery.
Ocean News: Loggerheads Receive Miles of Protected Shoreline, Philippine Airline Bans Shark Fin Shipments, and More
- This week, scientists officially named the largest flying creature ever discovered. Pelagornis sandersi, a type of early bird, relied on the oceans to keep it airborne when it lived 25 million years ago. To be able to fly with its massive 20- to 24-foot wingspan, scientists say this bird relied on air currents from the oceans to boost it into the area, where it scooped up prey from waves with a toothed beak.
A recent lawsuit prompted the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on July 17 to propose 36 ocean areas as critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles along the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. The lawsuit, jointly filed by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, came five years after environmental groups petitioned the government to strengthen protections for loggerhead populations, and 35 years after loggerheads were first listed under the Endangered Species Act, at which time the government was required to designate critical habitat by law. This prolonged delay impelled environmental organizations to take legal action to ensure that the threats these sea turtles face are minimized.
This post comes to us from our Oceana offices in Europe. Click here to read the post in the original Spanish version.
August 7, 2013
In an event attended by José Ramón Bauzá, the President of the government of the Balearic Islands, and Gabriel Company, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Territory, the Cabrera National Park hosted the yearly tradition of returning rescued sea turtles to the sea. This event inspires us to take a moment to recognize the benefits of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) like the Cabrera National Park -- safe havens that are essential to the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles and many other species.
This morning the government announced a decision, long in the making, to designate 739 miles of Atlantic and Gulf coastline as critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.
Loggerheads face threats from all sides, including from pollution, degradation of foraging areas, and serious injury and death from entanglement in fishing gear. They’re also faced with the loss of their nesting habitat due to coastal development as well as sea level rise.
Loggerheads, which make some of the longest journeys of any sea turtle—across entire ocean basins—nest on beaches from Texas to Virginia, but 90 percent of U.S. loggerhead nesting occurs in Florida. This new protection means that any new beachside hotels, homes or commercial construction built on protected beaches that require federal permits would need to be reviewed to prevent harm to nesting areas.
Oceana marine scientist Amanda Keledjian explained why the protections are crucial:
“Turtles are often caught in fishing gear, struck by moving vessels, or risk ingesting debris such as plastic bags. The National Marine Fisheries Service must follow up on this action and designate off-shore areas as well as waters directly adjacent to nesting beaches if they want these vulnerable populations to recover.”
The new protections came about as a result of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana, and Turtle Island Restoration Network, after the government failed to respond to previous petitions filed by the groups dating back to 2007. In 2011, loggerhead sea turtles worldwide were protected as nine separate populations under the Endangered Species Act, triggering the requirement to designate critical habitat.
The government will now accept public comments about the proposal and the protections are expected to take effect in 2014. Stay tuned to hear about ways that you can help ensure that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not withdraw many of these proposed beaches when these protections are finalized.
Yesterday Oceana and its supporters braved foul weather to protest a truly foul idea. Armed with airhorns and megaphones they gave the Department of the Interior (DOI) a tiny preview of what is in store for the ocean’s inhabitants should the Department allow seismic airgun testing to go forward in the Atlantic Ocean.
The DOI is currently reviewing a proposal to use seismic airguns to search for pockets of oil and gas in a huge expanse of ocean from Delaware to Florida. The effects of these round-the-clock tests, which will run for days on end with dynamite-like blasts firing at 10 second intervals, will be devastating to marine mammals and fish alike.
As Oceana marine scientist Matthew Huelsenbeck said at the event:
“There is only one word that I can use that sums up this proposal: unacceptable. The levels of impacts to protected dolphins and whales, including critically endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale are simply unacceptable.”
Fishing gear should be killing fewer sea turtles, not more – and today we filed a complaint with the government saying just that.
Oceana’s complaint is in response to the U.S. government’s decision in October 2010 to allow eight East Coast fisheries to harm 14 times more threatened loggerhead sea turtles – raising the limit from 42 to 610.
Oceana is disputing the U.S. government’s decision to allow these fisheries to injure and kill more loggerhead sea turtles without adequately assessing the aggregate impacts of the fisheries on this species. The fisheries harm leatherback, Kemp’s ridley, and green sea turtles as well, and those species also would benefit from proper assessments of the fisheries’ impacts.
Oceana’s complaint addresses eight federal fisheries, including those for monkfish and for summer flounder, scup and black sea bass, which are responsible for the highest levels of sea turtle bycatch in the region.
Oceana is calling on the U.S. to implement simple solutions to protect and restore sea turtle populations in the Atlantic, including turtle escape hatches in trawls, adopting adequate monitoring of fisheries that catch sea turtles, capping the allowable catch of sea turtles and where necessary, closing areas for fishing when and where sea turtles are present.
Today’s trivia post is about an animal we talk about a lot: the loggerhead sea turtle.
Loggerheads are named for their broad heads and strong jaws, which they use to force open even large hard shellfish like conchs and giant clams. Loggerheads are found throughout tropical and warm temperate waters, and are the most common sea turtle in the Mediterranean. Loggerheads have a redder hue than most sea turtles, and they are often coated in barnacles and algae.
Because they drink salty sea water, they have developed glands near their eyes that can get rid of this salt, which makes females onshore to nest look like they’re crying. Scientists theorize that adult loggerheads use the Earth’s magnetism to navigate – how cool is that?
Loggerheads, which are considered endangered, are frequently caught accidentally by the fishing industry; other threats include beach erosion and development, pesticides, and oil spills. Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch, protecting habitat, and promoting legislation that keeps turtles safe.
You can learn more about loggerhead sea turtles from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.
Last week the U.S. government issued bittersweet news for loggerhead sea turtles.
First, the good news: After almost four years of debate, the government decided to upgrade Pacific loggerhead sea turtles to “endangered” from “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The bad news is that Atlantic loggerhead turtles will still be considered “threatened,” despite the recommendations of the government’s own scientists.
Loggerheads have declined by at least 80 percent in the North Pacific and could become functionally or ecologically extinct by the mid-21st century if additional protections are not put into place. Meanwhile, Florida beaches, which host the largest nesting population of loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic, have seen more than a 25 percent decline in nesting since 1998.
In 2009, a team of government scientists published a report that classified both populations of loggerhead turtles as “currently at risk of extinction.” In other words, the government dismissed its own scientists’ conclusions about Northwest Atlantic loggerheads.
The government’s review of loggerhead status was prompted in 2007 by petitions from Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, which asked the government to enforce stronger protections for loggerheads and their habitats.
Unfortunately, the government has also postponed measures that would establish critical loggerhead habitats, an important step in achieving improved protections for key nesting beaches and migratory and feeding areas in the ocean.
We’re making progress, but as you can see, there’s still a long way to go. We’ll continue working to protect sea turtles – and you can help. Tell your representative to save sea turtles from extinction.
- Ocean News: Great Barrier Reef Will be “Pretty Ugly” by 2050, Sea Turtle Nests Down in South Carolina, and More Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- CEO Note: Another Chlorine Plant Goes Mercury-Free Posted Thu, July 17, 2014
- Eleven Florida Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Reconsider Approval for Seismic Airgun Testing Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- Ocean News: U.S. to Auction Off New Jersey Area for Offshore Wind, Baby Sea Turtles Found to Make Noises, and More Posted Fri, July 18, 2014
- Video: Spangled Emperor Fish Dazzle the Great Barrier Reef Posted Wed, July 23, 2014