The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sea Turtles

Oceana Proposes a Canary Islands MPA

Last week, in a culmination of several years of work, our European colleagues presented a proposal to protect 15% of the marine area around Spain’s Canary Islands. If the proposal is accepted, it would multiply the current protected area by 100.

Here’s the back story: In 2009 the Oceana Ranger, our research catamaran, sailed to the Canaries, which are off the coast of Morocco. Over the course of two months, the crew documented the seamounts and seabeds of the archipelago, and found a dozen species never before seen in the area, and filmed many rare species, including three-foot-tall glass sponges, Venus fly-trap anemones and lollipop sponges. (For more on the Canaries see this piece from our magazine last winter.)

The protected area would harbor many other threatened species in the area, such as sea turtles, deep-sea sharks, seahorses, the giant grouper, blue and right whales and the white gorgonian.


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U.S. Gov’t Fails to Protect Sea Turtles, Again

A loggerhead hatchling in North Carolina. © Oceana/Cory Wilson

While the U.S. government continues to dawdle, loggerhead sea turtles continue to suffer. (Yes, they need your help!)

Yesterday the U.S. government failed to meet its legal deadline for issuing a final rule providing additional protections for loggerhead sea turtles, whose populations have faced severe declines over the last decade.

Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network filed legal petitions in 2007 urging the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to uplist North Pacific and northwest Atlantic loggerheads from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

Then, a year ago, the government proposed to list loggerheads as endangered in response to a court-ordered settlement over prior delays. It has now failed to take timely action by missing the legal deadline to issue a final rule within one year.


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Protecting Costa Rica’s Biodiversity

A collared aracari on Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes our supporters point out organizations that are doing inspiring work for the oceans around the world. Thanks to supporter Joanna Adler for alerting us to the great work of an organization in Costa Rica called CIRENAS.

The Center of Investigation for Natural and Social Resources, or CIRENAS, is an organization that co-manages the Caletas Ario Nature Reserve, which is located on one of the last undeveloped stretches of coastline on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.


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Give Today to Save Sea Turtles

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

For millions of years, sea turtles have been a vital part of ocean ecosystems – but today they are on the brink of extinction as a result of irresponsible fishing and habitat destruction, among other threats. We’re working our hardest to save them, but we need your support.

All six sea turtle species that swim in US waters threatened or endangered, but it’s not too late to save them. Donate today and join Oceana in the fight to protect sea turtles and restore ocean balance. With your donation, we will continue pushing for stronger fishing regulations and legislation that will help protect and sustain turtle populations for years to come.

Our goal is to raise $40,000, and we still have a long way to go. Please donate today to help us in the fight to save sea turtles from extinction. And if you’ve already given, thank you -- now pass the word on via Facebook, Twitter, and however else you can!


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The Great Sea Turtle Migration Mystery: Solved?

Just call him Magellan: this loggerhead has a built-in navigation system. ©Oceana/Cory Wilson

It’s one of the most miraculous journeys in the natural world: sea turtles travel thousands of miles across the ocean to return to the very beach where they first scuttled into the sea.  

There aren’t exactly brightly lit mile markers in the sea, so how they do it? Scientists from the University of North Carolina (my alma mater!) say they have figured it out.

The researchers say that loggerhead sea turtles appear to be able to determine their longitude using the strength and angle of the Earth's magnetic field. Although several species of turtles are known to use magnetic cues to determine latitude, it had never been shown for longitude.

I didn’t realize this, but apparently the most difficult part of open-sea navigation is determining longitude (east-west position.) While human navigators struggled for centuries to figure it out on long-distance voyages, loggerhead hatchlings are naturals as soon as they hit the water.

To carry out the research loggerhead hatchlings were placed in circular water containers and tethered to electronic tracking systems to monitor their swimming direction.

You can read more about the research in Current Biology, and help protect sea turtles by telling President Obama to support comprehensive protections for the ancient mariners.


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Video: Tour a Sea Turtle Hospital

Ever visited a sea turtle sick ward? I have, and it's an enlightening, if sad, experience. Here’s your chance to do so virtually. Oceana supporter and actress Lauren Norman visited a Florida sea turtle hospital and science center and made the video below about what she learned.

Lauren discovers the main reasons sea turtles end up in rehab (fishing gear, boat propellers and cold stunning) and what can be done to protect sea turtles from ending up tangled in fishing gear, such as the use of turtle excluder devices.

 

Inspired by Lauren’s video? Now take action to protect sea turtles by telling President Obama that the ancient mariners need comprehensive protections in U.S. waters. Thanks to Lauren and all of you for helping protect sea turtles!


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Sea Turtles and Circle Hooks in the NYT

sea turtle x-ray

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

The Latest NYT “Scientist at Work” blog follows a sea turtle researcher, Lekelia “Kiki” Jenkins, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, as she travels to Ecuador to study factors in the cross-cultural adoption of sea turtle conservation technologies like turtle excluder devices and circle hooks.

Here’s an excerpt from her first post, including a great explanation of how circle hooks help sea turtles, and why turtles are like 40-year-old virgins:

“Some scientists estimate that a quarter of a million sea turtles are ensnared in fishing lines each year. This is truly a problem for sea turtles, which are the “40-year-old virgins” of the oceans. Turtles have a life span similar to humans, but might not start having young until they are several decades old. Dehookers and circle hooks are part of a suite of solutions that help longline fishers protect sea turtles, allowing them to mature and bear young while helping fishers continue to catch profitable tuna, swordfish and mahi-mahi.


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Will You Be My Valentine, Kate and Angela?

Since it's almost Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share something that warmed our hearts. Oceana celeb supporter Kate Walsh has a new fragrance, “Boyfriend,” and guess who is helping her promote it?  Another big Oceana supporter (and sea turtle lover), Angela Kinsey from “The Office.”

Check out Kate and Angela getting silly (and tipsy) and pass it on:

 

You can join Oceana, Kate and Angela to help get sea turtles off the hook, and speaking of Valentine’s Day, if you still need to get something special for your sweetheart, do us a big favor and buy it through this link -- $10 of each purchase goes toward our work to protect the oceans.  


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NOAA Wants $16K for Sea Turtle Documents

All six species of sea turtles in U.S. waters are threatened with extinction -- and we want to know why more isn’t being done to protect them.  The U.S. government wants to charge us an arm and a leg for more information about it. So we filed a lawsuit.

Last March, Oceana submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asking for records relating to trawl gear modifications intended to prevent sea turtle bycatch in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. (The government has still not acted to modify trawl gear to protect sea turtles on much of the East Coast.) In response, NOAA asked Oceana to pay more than $16,000 for the documents.


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Guest Post: Sea Turtles Are a Girl’s Best Friend

Angela Kinsey and Rachael Harris swim with a green sea turtle. © Tim Calver

Guest blogger Angela Kinsey ("The Office") recently joined Oceana in Mexico to swim with sea turtles and film a PSA.

 Sea turtle nesting in the U.S. is still a couple months away, but I just couldn’t wait to write something about my new RBFF (reptilian best friend forever) – the sea turtle.

How’d we get so close? It was actually on a trip to the Mexican Riviera last May with Oceana and my good friend Rachael Harris. There, Oceana took us to swim with sea turtles in the wild and visit injured turtles at Mexico’s only sea turtle hospital – it was a wonderful, moving experience.

We went to Akumal Bay to snorkel with green sea turtles (and a one slightly scary barracuda) and I was struck by how lucky I felt to be able to see them in the wild, eating seagrass and going about their day. Then at the sea turtle hospital, seeing turtles injured by fishing gear, boat propellers and other animals was incredibly emotional.

I grew up overseas and had seen sea turtles before, but swimming with them up close and personal changed my perspective in a powerful way. I’m overwhelmed by how much humans are affecting marine life and in the case of sea turtles, which are very susceptible to impacts from climate change too, I worry that my daughter won’t be able to see them and have the same experience swimming with them that I did. Playing at the beach and in the ocean was such  big part of my childhood and I hope it can be for her too. And folks...our oceans and the marine life livng in them need someone to start looking out for them.


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