Home News Sea Turtles In California | Giant Sea Turtle Population Loss Off US

Sea Turtles In California | Giant Sea Turtle Population Loss Off US


Sea Turtles In California | Giant Sea Turtle Population Loss Off US: The leatherback sea turtles, which date back to the dinosaur era, were discovered on California beaches nearly 40 years ago when scientists documented the stranded sea turtles.

It is strange because the nearest known population of giants lived in the waters of Central and South America, several thousand miles away.

Sea Turtles In California | Giant Sea Turtle Population Loss Off US


Why Researcher Start Discovery

Researchers made a startling discovery because of their mysterious presence. An Indonesian, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands leatherback subset was migrating 7,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Feeding on jellyfish off the U.S. West Coast before swimming back to Indonesia. Scientists were astonished by the journey’s length and difficulty.

They fly. There are longer-distance birds. While a whale shark may swim a little further, it does not have to stop to catch its breath.

An ecologist with NOAA’s fisheries service in Monterey has studied turtles for decades and says the turtles are pushing water across the Pacific. A majestic animal, that’s all I can say.

Are There Sea Turtles In California


Turtles are disappearing fast, just as scientists are beginning to understand their incredible journey.

Western Pacific leatherback numbers have plummeted by 80 percent in less than 30 years, according to a study co-authored by Benson. Fewer than 1,400 adult female turtles nest on western Pacific beaches, compared to tens of thousands of decades ago, Benson said.

Scientists say that if nothing is done, leatherback turtles could be extinct from the U.S. West Coast within three decades due to indiscriminate international fishing, habitat destruction, and climate change.

The turtles are there, and we finally started paying attention. We began examining the story just as it was coming to a close.”

Commercial Fishing Impact

Commercial fishing’s impact on marine ecosystems, Daniel Pauly, said the study provides critical but devastating new population information.

While a decline in one location could be due to various factors, Pauly said that finding the exact reduction in two areas indicates something much more severe. “They’re in serious trouble.”

Initiative To Save Them

An aggressive initiative to save them was launched by NOAA last year. This month, the agency will release an updated action plan aimed at spurring increased global collaboration to reduce beach egg theft and entanglements in commercial fishing gear.

As Benson points out, “there is a window of opportunity to reverse the decline, but we must seize it immediately. This will require a global effort by all the nations with which this animal interacts.” It is estimated that the Pacific Ocean population will go extinct if nothing is done to change it.

Leatherback turtles have likely been feeding off the West Coast of the United States for millennia. However, none of them completes such a long migration as the leatherback.

Scientists don’t know why some leatherback turtles migrate to California, and others don’t. Some go even further north, to the waters off Oregon and Washington state, while others head south.


All leatherbacks worldwide are under threat, but the subset that migrates across the Pacific for months at a time faces unique threats that conservationists find particularly difficult to combat.

Mexico and Costa Rica are also home to leatherback turtles, whose populations have plummeted due to the loss of nesting beaches.

Fishing nets and long lines intend for swordfish injure or kill turtles when used by commercial fishing boats in an international no-land man’s where strict U.S. fishing laws don’t apply.

To reach the U.S. West Coast, they must navigate the fishing grounds of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, and other nations.

Who Are Responsible Of This?

Wildlife and humans are often responsible for destroying leatherback eggs on nesting beaches in the western Pacific. And sand mining operations on private beaches threaten leatherback nests, as well.

To protect giant turtles in a 186,000 square mile (481,787 square kilometers) area off the West Coast of the United States, swordfish fishing with long lines  ban for 20 years from mid-August to mid-November.

A slight drift gillnet fishery in California will phase out by 2024, and the swordfish fleets in Hawaii and California must shut down if they accidentally catch more than 16 leatherback turtles in a season, according to recent regulations.

A bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat. Many of these measures have successfully reduced harm to Pacific leatherback turtle populations in Hawaii and off west coast of the United State.

Twenty-three leatherback turtles kills between 1990 and 2000 when they became entangle off the West Coast. According to NOAA Fisheries, between 2014 and 2018, there were none at all.

More Restrictions

Fishermen’s attorney Damien Schiff says environmentalists push for more restrictions on U.S. fisheries when foreign fisheries are to blame.

A foreign fishery with a poor environmental rating will supply every swordfish that Californians miss, he said. It’s a fact, and I don’t think you can dispute it.”

International fisheries, which compete directly with U.S. vessels in far-off Pacific waters. Are urge to replicate these successes outside of U.S. waters to increase cooperation.

Swordfish imported to the U.S. to be harvest using the same turtle-sparing equipment require of American fleets. Or expanding the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act to include sea creatures that aren’t mammals.

The Largest Fish Market Is From United States

The U.S. is the world’s largest fish market, so once our fisheries meet specific standards, we can ask other countries for the same, he said. Where does it become too late? There are victories, but the war is lost.

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