Loggerheads protected

10 Jul 2014
Critical habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle has been designated

Critical habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle has been designated

NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have announced two final rules to designate critical habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Atlantic Ocean and on coastal beach habitat along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

The NOAA-designated marine critical habitat includes some nearshore reproductive areas directly off of nesting beaches from North Carolina through Mississippi, winter habitat in North Carolina, breeding habitat in Florida, constricted migratory corridors in North Carolina and Florida, and Sargassum habitat, which is home to the majority of juvenile turtles, in the western Gulf of Mexico and in US waters within the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.  

The USFWS-designated terrestrial critical habitat areas include 88 nesting beaches in coastal counties located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. These beaches account for 48% of an estimated 1,531 miles of coastal beach shoreline used by loggerheads, and about 84% of the documented numbers of nests, within these six states.  

“Protecting endangered and threatened species, including loggerhead sea turtles, is at the core of NOAA’s mission,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Given the vital role loggerhead sea turtles play in maintaining the health of our oceans, rebuilding their populations is key as we work to ensure healthy and resilient oceans for generations to come.”

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