Great news for critically endangered Pacific Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea)! The California Fish and Game Commission have amongst their other good works today, voted unanimously to advance them for listing as endangered species under CESA, the California Engangered Species Act in response to a petition made by the Center for Biodiversity in cooperation with Turtle Island Restoration Network.
Good for them! This grants the turtles some valuable additional protections within their important feeding grounds off the coast of California. They have also been proposed as the State Reptile for California.
They’re the world’s largest sea turtles and their population visiting nesting beaches has reduced by a whopping 95%! There are thought to be under 700 left. They’re the fourth largest living reptiles, the most widely traveled (10,000 km per year) and the only living endothermic reptiles. They can be found as far north as the Bering Sea and as far south as Chile and New Zealand! Off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington State the rich upwellings that feed jellyfish attract Leatherbacks from thousands of miles away. According to the petition document they spend 75 % of their time within the top 5 meters of the water column, and this makes them vulnerable to collisions, oil spills & surfactant responses, floating plastic and long-line and other fishing hazards.
The threats they face are mostly man-made and include: ingestion of plastics and oil-tar blobs, other pollution, collisions, entanglement in fishing gear, ghost fishing (entanglement in abandoned nets lines and traps, climate change affecting crucial phenological events, loss of habitat (nesting beaches).
This following still grab is from the presentation made by Turtle Island Restoration Network who cosponsored the petition along with the Center for Biodiversity shows marked positions of 40 satellite tracked Leatherbacks showing how well-used this are of coastline is by these critically endangered sea turtles.
Thank you very much to all involved!
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