U.S. agencies chart out fresh habitats for threatened species
In a move to fortify the dwindling numbers of endangered green sea turtles, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently put forth a proposal to assign new areas as critical habitats.
“Green sea turtles continue to face threats in the marine environment, including human interactions like bycatch and marine debris, as well as habitat loss and the ongoing impacts of climate change.”Janet Coit, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator
Details on the new habitats
The critical habitats proposed spread across several states, territories, and commonwealths, including California, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, Texas, American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. Details on the proposed critical habitat can be found in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Frequently Asked Questions.
- Virtual meetings covering habitat in Hawaii and the Atlantic: https://www.fws.gov/library/collections/green-sea-turtle-meetings-hearings
- Virtual meeting covering habitat in Southern California: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/critical-habitat-green-sea-turtles
Overlap with existing habitats
Many of the proposed areas coincide with current critical habitats for other species. More information on the overlapping areas and species can be found in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s and NOAA Fisheries’ online mapping tools.
Function of the new habitats
The habitats are designed to shelter green sea turtles during key life stages such as basking, nesting, incubating, hatching, and their journey to the sea. These proposals also aim to shield vital feeding and resting areas, in addition to migration corridors.
Implications for landowners
Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the designation of critical habitat doesn’t affect private landowners unless they engage in activities involving federal funds or permits.
Conclusion: step towards long-term conservation
In the face of accelerating climate change and increasing human interference, the decision to designate new habitats for the endangered green sea turtles is an imperative step in wildlife conservation. This move underscores the enduring importance of the ESA, underscoring the necessity of a long-term vision for species preservation.