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Blog Tags: Sea Turtles

New Study: Millions of Sea Turtles Caught Globally

sea turtle x-ray

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

The first ever global assessment of sea turtle bycatch came out this week in the journal Conservation Letters -- and it’s not pretty.

The study found that 85,000 sea turtles were reported caught by commercial fisheries worldwide over the last 20 years, but the scientists estimate that the actual number is two orders of magnitude higher than that -- in the millions.

The 85,000 figure only accounts for sea turtle bycatch that was reported, but the actual number of turtles caught is significantly higher because typically less than 1% of fleets have fishing observed and many small scale fisheries have no observer coverage at all.

The study looked at sea turtles caught by gillnets, longlines and trawls, three of the most commonly used fishing gear types. The bottom line here is that the number of sea turtles caught as bycatch is enormous. Without additional bycatch reduction and better enforcement of established protections, many sea turtle populations may go extinct.


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Loggerheads Get a Boost

loggerhead sea turtle

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

We're celebrating a big win yesterday for loggerhead sea turtles.

In response to two petitions submitted in 2007 by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, yesterday the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to change the status of North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

The government also proposed listing loggerhead sea turtles around the globe as nine separate populations, each with its own threatened or endangered status.

The change in listing status means the populations are in danger of extinction and will trigger a legal requirement for proposed critical habitat, an important step in achieving improved protections for key nesting beaches and migratory and feeding habitat in the ocean. 


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Calling All Ocean Geeks: What's Your Ocean IQ?

sea turtle hatchling

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

Got the winter blues? In need of intellectual stimulation, or a vacation to a tropical destination -- or both? Or are you just a proud ocean geek? Either way, it's your lucky day.

Yesterday we launched our brand new Ocean IQ Quiz, where you can use your ocean smarts to win prizes -- including a trip to Baja California.

After you take the quiz, you'll have a chance to enter the sweepstakes to win a slew of prizes. The grand prize winner will travel with ecotourism organization SEE Turtles on an exclusive eco-adventure to observe sea turtles in the wild.

And the other prizes are not too shabby either: Nintendo Wiis with a copy of the ocean exploration game Endless Ocean, plus dive watches, gift cards and rope bracelets from Nautica.

Plus, this pop quiz is open-note. You can beef up your score by utilizing our Explore section, and you can take multiple quizzes if you're one of those over-achiever types.

So go on, test your ocean IQ! I know you want to. And all the cool kids are doing it.


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A Tough Winter for Turtles

green sea turtle

A green sea turtle at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Island, NC. The center often takes in cold-stunned turtles. © Jeff Janowski/Oceana

This winter has been a doozy around the country, and not just for humans. On Tuesday, The Miami Herald published a letter to the editor from Oceana's chief scientist Mike Hirshfield on the effect of this year's harsh winter on sea turtles. Check it out:

Officials are calling this one of the worst years on record for sea turtle strandings in the United States. Approximately 2,500 sea turtles have been found wounded or dead as a result of cold-stunning in the increasing frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Volunteers are busily scouring the coastline for sea turtles that can be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild, and rescue centers are becoming inundated with sea turtles fighting for survival.

To a scientist, it all makes perfect, if unfortunate, sense. Cold-blooded reptiles like sea turtles are simply unable to warm themselves in cold water. While sea turtles are commonly found in northern U.S. waters during the summer and early fall, they typically migrate to warmer climates by late October. Unfortunately, not all of them made it out before the area temperatures dropped to unbearable levels, and with a winter like we are having, it is bound to be a deadly scenario.


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Kate Walsh on Jimmy Kimmel Live

kate walsh sea turtle

Kate Walsh swims with a green sea turtle. © Tim Calver

Last night our favorite TV doctor and sea turtle lover Kate Walsh appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Jimmy displayed a photo of Kate swimming alongside a sea turtle from her trip with Oceana to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kate fought back giggles -- that Jimmy Kimmel, such a jokester -- to explain why she loves sea turtles.

After you watch the clip, don't forget to check out her PSA, slideshows and bonus footage of Kate at http://na.oceana.org/en/turtlesoffthehook.


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Oceana Adoption Center Open for the Holidays

Oceana Adoption Center

© Oceana

Have you ever tried to gift wrap a shark? Put a bow on a polar bear? Wrangle a penguin into a gift box? Thankfully, you don’t have to actually wrap up an animal to give an Oceana gift. I’m so excited to tell you that the Oceana Adoption Center is open for business!

All the familiar creatures are back this year - sharks, sea turtles, octopuses, polar bears, penguins, seals, dolphins and whales - and we've made a special addition too. We are now offering The Casey Kit, a deluxe limited-edition sea turtle adoption inspired by Casey Sokolovic, a young ocean hero who has been baking and selling cookies to support the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles.

Until wrapping paper comes in rolls large enough for a hammerhead, Oceana’s adoptions are the best way to give the ocean-lovers on your list the perfect holiday present. Make sure to order before December 15 to get free holiday shipping. Your tax-deductible donation is not only a thoughtful gift to a lucky friend or family member, but it helps us here at Oceana do our work – protecting the oceans all over the world.


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Sound, Brain and Ocean Waves

wave

Image via wikimedia commons.

Last time we heard from Dr. Wallace "J." Nichols, he sent us wisdom from a coconut. Now he's back with several cool new projects. The first is called Ocean Voices, a website where you can record your own thoughts on the oceans and listen to others' voices, too.

The culmination of the project will be an Ocean Opera performed in June 2010 to kick off World Ocean Month and Jacques Cousteau's 100th Birthday celebration. With more than 300 voices so far, Nichols hopes to get 1000 by the end of this year. Check it out and speak up for the seas!

And then there's his forthcoming book, Oceanophilia, co-authored by Andy Myers. So what is Oceanophilia, you ask? Keep reading and find out, in this post by Nichols from yesterday's Huffington Post:

Oceanophilia: The Neuroscience of Emotion and the Ocean

“We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea—whether it is to sail or to watch it—we are going back from whence we came.”  - President John F. Kennedy

Once I met a man who hated the ocean.  Intensely, he said.  He described to me fear, negative associations and a general unease he couldn’t quite put his finger on.  His aversion was so strong— especially when measured against my own great, unabashed love for the ocean—that I’ll never forget my bewilderment.  Everyone I have ever known loves the ocean.  I’m not talking about lower-case “l” kind of love either; the kind that we apply indiscriminately to pop stars, sports teams and chocolate bars.  I mean the capital “L” kind of Love; the love that is unfathomable and ineffable, a fusion of respect, understanding, awe, sensuality and mystery.


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Kate Walsh Joins Oceana to Save Sea Turtles

Actress Kate Walsh, star of ABC’s “Private Practice,” (and that fantastic Cadillac commercial) has joined Oceana in our campaign to protect sea turtles. Needless to say, we are tickled to have her on board.

Walsh travelled with Oceana scientists to the U.S. Virgin Islands this summer, where she encountered leatherback hatchlings and swam with green sea turtles. (Watch the video below -- she's impressively graceful in the water).

Check out Kate's new website with Oceana, http://oceana.org/turtlesoffthehook, where you can see her new PSA about turtles, photo slideshows and bonus footage, and sign up to join Kate in the fight to get turtles off the hook. Plus, don't forget to check out the interview with Kate in the latest Oceana newsletter.

Kate Walsh Swims With Sea Turtles from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Rachel Maddow Loves Sea Turtles

Rachel Maddow, known for her incisive take on American politics, is also, it seems, a fan of sea turtles. In a "Moment of Geek" segment from her show last week, she showed a video of 82 green sea turtle hatchlings at Sea World in San Diego. "All of the world's species of sea turtle are on the endangered list, so there being 82 new little ones in the world is sort of a big turtle-y deal." We couldn't agree more, Rachel. If that makes us geeks, then so be it.

 


Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


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Kate Walsh, Sea Turtles and More in Our Fall Newsletter

kate walsh

Actress Kate Walsh with a leatherback hatchling. © Tim Calver


I’m happy to share our latest quarterly newsletter with you. We’ve taken a slightly different approach this time around and featured several facets of our campaign to save sea turtles.

We’re also officially introducing Kate Walsh, star of the hit TV shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” as our sea turtle campaign spokeswoman.

These stories and more are inside:

*Kate Walsh Wants to Get Sea Turtles Off the Hook: The actress travels to the Virgin Islands with Oceana to film a public service campaign to protect sea turtles.

*New Oceana victories to protect krill, sea turtles and more.

*Introducing Casey: This 11-year-old sea turtle activist from North Carolina raises money for sea turtles through bake sales, and joins Oceana’s holiday adopt-a-creature fundraiser.

*Nesting Nights: Oceana online editor Emily Fisher and marine biologist Kerri Lynn Miller traveled to Bald Head Island to witness loggerhead sea turtle nesting.

*Photos from our Sea Change Summer Party honoring Morgan Freeman and Glenn Close.

*A profile of Lea Haratani, marine biologist and new vice chair of the Ocean Council.

*A sustainable seafood recipe from renowned Spanish chef Sergi Arola.

You can also download a PDF of the newsletter. I hope you come away entertained and enlightened about Oceana’s work.



[Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.]


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