Turtle Island Helps Win Gulf Loggerhead
Sea Turtles Room to Roam
Loggerhead sea turtles were first declared endangered in 1978, yet their critical habitat was never protected as required by the Endangered Species Act, a law designed to "protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend." Turtle Island Restoration Network and other conservation groups sued the government in 2013 seeking stronger protections for endangered loggerhead sea turtles.
As a direct result of the lawsuit, the federal government designated the largest "critical habitat" area in history as protected loggerhead sea turtle habitat. The designation includes 685 miles of beaches from Mississippi to North Carolina and more than 300,000 square miles of ocean on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Read More ￫
First Shark Added to U.S. Endangered Species List
Turtle Island's Research Contributes to Increased Protections for Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks
This month the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) added the first shark, the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), to the U.S. Endangered Species list due in part to Turtle Island Restoration Network’s research and public comments.
Four of six Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of scalloped hammerhead sharks were listed. The Indo-West Pacific DPS and Central/SW Atlantic DPS were listed as threatened, and the Eastern Atlantic DPS and Eastern Pacific DPS were listed as endangered. Threats to hammerheads include the shark fin trade and "incidental catch" in a variety of fishing gear like longlines and driftnets.
Turtle Island has observed and studied the Eastern Pacific distinct population segment of scalloped hammerhead sharks for years. These sharks aggregate at core “hot spots” in the Cocos Islands near Costa Rica and by the Galapagos Islands. They can travel long distances but show fidelity to these spots, often within protected marine reserves. However, there is evidence of illegal fishing and longlining within the reserves, and the Eastern Pacific DPS is considered at a "high risk for extinction now and in the foreseeable future." This listing is the first step to protecting these unique sharks.
Driftnet Fishery Restricted During El Niño to Save Pacific Loggerhead Sea Turtles
In response to a lawsuit brought by Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center for Biological Diversity, the National Marine Fisheries Service is seasonally closing off the 25,000-square-mile Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area near Southern California to the deadly driftnet fishery for swordfish and thresher shark.
The area closure, which runs from July 25 through August 31, will prevent entanglements and drownings of endangered loggerhead sea turtles in driftnet fishing gear during El Niño conditions. The warm El Niño waters attract the endangered loggerhead sea turtles to the same area where the fishery operates. This closure ensures that Pacific loggerhead sea turtles will be protected in California's coastal waters during this year's El Niño event.
Learn More ￫
Galapagos Whale Shark Expedition
Turtle Island set sail for the Galapagos with Jonathan Green, the Charles Darwin Foundation and El Parque Nacional Galapagos. The Galapagos Whale Shark Project crew sailed to Darwin Island on Monday night. From here they will be attempting to place satellite tags on the sharks as they migrate through the islands. An El Niño event is on the way, and the team expects to see changes in migratory routes.
Follow us on Facebook to get the latest expedition updates and find out more about whale sharks!