Pacific leatherbacks need our help more than ever. Despite being listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1970 their population is currently declining at 6% per year. If this trend continues we could lose these magnificent turtles in 20 years.
We're thrilled to share some great news with you -- After more than five years of delay, the federal government finally proposed to protect 36 areas of ocean habitat across six states for loggerhead sea turtles, in response to a lawsuit filed by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. After the government failed to respond to petitions to strengthen protections for loggerhead populations from as far back as 2007, we joined with these two other conservation groups to bring the lawsuit. The new proposal by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to protect the waters off of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, comes as a direct result of this lawsuit!
We are alarmed by the recent decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) not to provide needed protections for U.S. West Coast great white sharks under the federal Endangered Species Act. NMFS declined protections despite current science estimates of only a few hundred sub-adult and adult white sharks at their primary aggregation sites. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) petition submitted by Oceana and its partners to NMFS met all the legal criteria and demonstrated through the best available science that this special population of great white sharks clearly warrants protections under the ESA.
Did you know that only about 6% of all U.S. species protected under the Endangered Species Act live in the oceans?
On Monday, the conservation group WildEarth Guardians asked the federal government to grant protection for 81 additional marine species. Those currently listed are mostly “charismatic mega-fauna,” such as dolphins, whales, seals, and sea turtles. This organization seeks to add species of sharks, corals, fish, and other threatened and endangered sea life to the list of marine species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
“Walls of death.” Gillnets have often been described in this haunting way due to their devastating ability to catch all kinds of fish, as well as sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and even whales. Marine creatures of all sizes and species are indiscriminately snared and drowned in these death traps, and a recent report reveals that even birds are being killed by these sea nets. A study in the journal Biological Conservation reported that fishing vessels that deploy gillnets snare and drown at least 400,000 sea birds around the world every year. The actual figure could be even higher.
Sawfish have a reason to breathe a little easier today: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has completed comprehensive status reviews under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and has determined that five foreign species of sawfish meet the definition of “endangered” under the Act. Of course, this “victory” is bittersweet: no one is celebrating the fact that sawfish species are endangered, but rather that they now will finally receive the protections they so desperately need to recover their numbers.
An environmentalist fighting for endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica has been found dead, suspected killed by sea turtle poachers. Jairo Mora Sandoval, a noted Costa Rican environmentalist, was a biology student who worked for the state-sponsored Paradero Eco-Tour, an animal rescue group and turtle sanctuary. Mora Sandoval also worked as a volunteer with the nonprofit environmental group Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), which works to protect sea turtles and their eggs across Central America. Mora Sandoval worked particularly to protect leatherback turtle nests from poachers and smugglers in Moin beach in Limon province. He was reported found badly beaten and shot in the head, face down with his hands tied on Moin beach, which lies 105 miles east of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. Sandoval was 26.
Happy World Turtle Day! While World Turtle Day celebrates turtles that roam both the land and the sea, as well as tortoises, we at Oceana would especially like to recognize the magnificent species of sea turtles that roam throughout the world’s oceans. The seven species classified as sea turtles around the world are truly incredible: most undergo incredible long migrations – some as far as 1,400 miles –between their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest. Some loggerhead sea turtles nest in Japan and migrate to Baja del Sur, Mexico, to forage before swimming across the Pacific Ocean again to return home! Amazingly, female sea turtles even return to the exact beach where they hatched as babies to nest and lay their eggs.
May 17th is the day to show your love for endangered sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and all sorts of marine creatures. Why? Because it’s Endangered Species Day! Today is the day to learn and share information about your favorite endangered animals and rally support around the creatures that need it most.
Following Oceana’s newly released report on the harmful impacts of illegal fishing, one of the questions that I as Oceana's Northeast representative was asked most often was, “Where is this happening?” The short answer: Illegal fishing happens everywhere, from the most distant waters near Antarctica to just off the U.S. coast.