Sunday, September 18, 2011

West Coast's Loggerhead Turtles Added to Endangered Species List

A captive loggerhead turtle

It has been recently reported that the loggerhead turtle has been added to the Endangered Species List by the U.S. This increasingly rare reptile has been threatened by a wide range of issues, from plastic trash to poaching, oil spills, and habitat destruction. The National Marine Fisheries Service shifted the population in the North Pacific from "threatened" to "endangered" on the list after four years of lobbying. Marine biologists say that the turtles, which regulate the California coast, have decreased by 80 % in the past ten years. The turtles nest on the shores of Japan, but spend most of their time along the coasts of southern California and Mexico. According to Chris Pincetich, a marine biologist for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, they would occasionally venture up to northern California when the water is warmer during El Nino weather patterns. He further added that the turtles are subjects to threats by Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese longline fleets that are not under U.S fishing regulations. In addition to that, they often get hooked by swordfish boats from Hawaii and drown. Since 2007, legal petitions were filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network. The rule divided the loggerhead turtle into nine populations worldwide, out of which five are endangered. Among those unlisted as endangered included the Northwest Atlantic loggerhead, which Mr. Pincetich cited stated is threatened by the increasing threats from shrimp trawlers and the BP oil spill.
A resting loggerhead

The last part of this article is yet another example of what happens when the government is in charge of deciding whether a specific species of animal should be endangered or not endangered. This action leads to the future of such creatures to be very bleak. This was especially the case with the wolf population on the U.S mainland. Because their populations reached well over a thousand individuals, the government decided it was best to delist them as endangered species and allow human hunters to hunt them as with any North American big game animal. This decision never sat well with various conservation groups, who are experts in making such decisions based on science and not politics. Now, there are loggerhead turtles that are in a similar situation, especially the ones that frequent the shores of Northwest Atlantic. I personally feel that they are in a great need of help due to threats from factors such as shrimp trawlers and the aftermath of the B.P oil spill. Without these reptiles, the ecology of the waters where they frequent will never sustain. This is why it is crucial to turn the attention on these particular turtles. And at the same time, the ones living in the Pacific should also be helped regarding threats from eastern longline fleets.

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