Status of some sea turtles changes from threatened to endangered

09-18-2011 // Curtis Tate - McClatchy Newspapers

This excerpt is from the Star-Telegram


The Obama administration has taken steps to protect the loggerhead sea turtle, downgrading the status of some populations from threatened to endangered.

The loggerhead has been listed as threatened since 1978, but a decline in habitat and population in several areas of the world led marine scientists to review the classification.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday announced the change, under which the north Pacific population of turtles is among five groups to be listed as endangered. But the northwest Atlantic population, which includes the southeast Atlantic and Gulf coasts, remains among four others listed as threatened.

"What this means is that all loggerhead sea turtles are threatened or endangered," said Doug Inkley, a senior wildlife biologist at the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, Va. "We're going in the wrong direction."

The brownish-red turtles can weigh as much as 250 pounds and swim for thousands of miles. They don't start nesting until they're close to 30 years old and can live to be 100.

Millions of children and their parents know the loggerhead from characters in the animated film Finding Nemo: Crush, Nemo's surfer-dude friend, and son Squirt.

Inkley said he isn't sure why the classification didn't change for the northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead turtles, since a lot of the discussion revolved around it. "I find it interesting that only a year ago, NOAA proposed that this population be listed as endangered, yet somehow they changed their mind," he said. "It's a higher level of alertness and awareness. There are further restrictions on endangered species."


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