Sea Turtles: Protection in the U.S. and Problems in Australia

Written by on July 23, 2013 in Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law, Sea Turtles
Young loggerhead sea turtle near Panama City, Florida.

Young loggerhead sea turtle near Panama City, Florida. Photo credit: NOAA.

Protection in the U.S.

Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released their proposed marine protected areas for loggerhead sea turtles in response to a lawsuit filed by three conservation groups last year.

The good news: the proposal includes protections for the Atlantic population in 36 areas of habitat across six states on the East Coast. The bad news: those states are only located in the south and loggerheads are known to swim as far north as Massachusetts.

In other news, a study from the U.S. Geological Survey challenges the view that loggerheads stay near one beach during the nesting season. Researchers previously believed that once loggerheads had nested on a beach, they either stayed in the immediate vicinity or migrated back out to sea. With the help of satellite tags, the researchers found that females visited different beaches, some hundreds of miles apart. Evidence from the study suggests that the turtles require even more protection than previously thought.

According to the data, “it is not sufficient to just protect habitat around high density nesting beaches,” explains co-author and USGS biologist Meg Lamont, “because many turtles that nest on the Peninsula use the entire region from the eastern Florida Panhandle to Louisiana.”

Strandings in Australia

In Australia, wildlife rangers, scientists, veterinarians, volunteers and government agencies gathered at a three-day conference to discuss the recent sharp increase in the number of sea turtle strandings on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Guardian reports that in 2010, 808 sea turtles were found stranded. In 2011, 1,781 were found and there were 1,510 in 2012. As of June 30 this year there have been 342 strandings, representing a slight decrease.

Possible causes range from boat strikes to chemical runoff and even a loss of seagrass from cyclone Yasi in 2011. Experts note that more research is required to determine the cause of strandings and the full range of threats that sea turtles face in the Great Barrier Reef.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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