Sea Turtles are some of our ocean’s most amazing creatures and deserve a day dedicated to them. So, on June 16, countries around the world are celebrating World Sea Turtle Day. In the U.S. the Recreation.gov site offers lots of data on the sea turtles found in U.S. waters; where you can see turtle hatchlings and find out what you can do to protect sea turtles.
Unfortunately, not all is celebration, many species of sea turtle are endangered and their continued existence is imperiled by fishing practices, ocean pollution and habitat disruption. The plight of sea turtles has galvanized governments, organizations and individuals worldwide to help them to survive and thrive. (photo – Greet Turtle hatchling by Michele Westmorland)
An important initiative proposed in 2015 in the United States during the Obama presidency was designed to protect a variety of endangered marine life including fin, humpback, and sperm whales; leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles and common bottlenose dolphins from being caught in long, nearly invisible, gill nets intended to catch swordfish.
The regulation would have applied to no more than 20 fishing boats operating off the California coast. But the threat the gill net fishery poses is profound, “catching and discarding more whales and dolphins than any other fishery off the U.S. West Coast and Alaska combined,” said the Center for Biological Diversity’s Katherine Kilduff.
Pacific Leatherback Turtles the World’s Most Endangered Marine Turtle
Given the low numbers of some of these endangered species like the Pacific leatherback turtle (considered the world’s most endangered marine turtle) with as few as 2,300 adult females left in the wild, “If they catch one, it’s a huge problem for the population,” said Kilduff. (photo – Leatherback sea turtle)
However, not all politicians are on the same page regarding the necessity of protecting endangered species. The Trump administration has now scrapped the Obama prohibitions on gill net fishing.
Todd Steiner, director Turtle Island Restoration Network said “The Trump administration has declared war on whales, dolphins and turtles off the coast of California,”
Trump’s War on Endangered Species and MPA’s
This follows on previous actions by the GOP Congress and the White House to eliminate other initiatives, including a ban on the hunting of bears and wolves in Alaskan refuges and Trump’s announced intentions to roll-back Obama’s Marine Protected Areas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and to open the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas exploitation. Not to mention Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement with all the implications that decision holds for controlling climate change and ocean warming.
Celebrate, Preserve and Protect
So, on World Sea Turtle Day, it is fitting to celebrate these amazing marine mammals but to also remain aware that their survival depends on the actions that we take to make sure our politicians share our view on the necessity of their preservation.
By Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See these related Blue Ocean Posts on Sea Turtles:
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