Visually see the economic impact of the deadly California driftnet fishery.
SB 1114 will end the most harmful fishing practice on the West Coast by immediately reducing the number of damaging driftnets used to catch swordfish off California’s coast, and phasing out the remaining few driftnet permits.
Protect Whales, Dolphins and Sea Turtles, Support AB 2019
Learn the Facts about mercury, where it comes from, how does it enter the food chain, how do people get exposed to mercury and
To learn the facts about mercury, where it comes from, how does it enter the foodchain, how do people get exposed to mercury and
The EPA reference dose (RfD) is defined as the amount of mercury a person, including sensitive subpopulations, can be exposed to on a daily
Learn more about doctors and groups that address mercury poisoning (Got Mercury does not imply any implicit or explicit endorsement) How Does mercury Enter
This video from the University of Calgary demonstrates the toxic effect methyl mercury has on neurons.
Wild Oats took a leadership role on mercury in seafood issues by voluntarily posting this mercury sign at seafood counters in all of their
Mercury in Seafood Brochure from Hawaii Department of Health. Given to families on the WIC program. It warns women and children about mercury in
California Driftnet Fishery Reports
- Driftnet Overview
- Sea Turtle Impacts
- Economic Report
- California Driftnet Fishery: The True Costs of a 20th Century Fishery in the 21st Century
- Deadly Impact of the California Driftnet Fishery on Sharks
NBC Bay Area News : Whales, Dolphins, Sea Lions, Among Thousands Entangled and Killed in Mile-Long Fishing Nets off California Coast
Advocacy and Policy Director
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) are the smallest and most vulnerable species of sea turtle in the world (1,2). They weigh only 100 pounds at most in adulthood and get up to 2 feet long (1,3). Kemp’s ridleys have a limited habitat, nesting in just two countries in the Gulf of Mexico (3). This means that the Kemp’s ridley is particularly vulnerable to localized threats like commercial fishing, egg harvesting, and oil spills (1,2,3).
A Lifetime of Turtlehood
This tiny species makes a dramatic entrance come nesting season. Kemp’s ridley nest in ‘arribadas.’ Spanish for arrival, arribadas are a spectacle to witness. Wave upon wave of females come crashing ashore, laying their eggs in broad daylight unlike any other sea turtle in the world (1,4). From April to July, females will do this up to three times, burying approximately 100 eggs each time in freshly dug holes on beaches in Mexico, Texas, and Florida (1,2,3).
Little hatchlings emerge from their holes in the sand after two months of incubation and head straight for the open ocean, eager to evade any near-shore predators that might be lurking (1). For the first two years of their lives, hatchlings ride the tides up and down the Atlantic coast, from as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Bermuda (1,2,4).
After two years of travelling the coast, adolescent Kemp’s ridleys return to the Gulf of Mexico (1,2). Here, they forage for swimming crabs and other hard foods, rarely diving deeper than 160 feet during their adult life. Some will migrate in search for food but, come adulthood, Kemp’s ridleys are not known to wander far (1).
After ten years of living in the Gulf, Kemp’s ridleys reach sexual maturity. Like their parents before them, they return to important nesting sites in Mexico, Texas, and Florida to lay their eggs (1).
Struggling to Survive
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are listed under the US Endangered Species Act and as IUCN Critically Endangered (2,3). They are more endangered than any other species of sea turtle (1). Slowly, though, Kemp’s ridley populations are recovering (1,2).
Much of the initial decline in Kemp’s ridleys was due to direct harvesting of eggs and adult turtles. Most Kemp’s ridleys lay their eggs at the same time on a single stretch of beaches in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Their eggs are thus extremely concentrated, making them an easy target for harvest and costing their population tens of thousands of turtles in the early 1900s (4). Egg harvesting was made illegal in 1966, and this threat was significantly reduced (1,2).
Kemp’s ridleys’ greatest threat is the commercial fishing industry. In particular, shrimp trawls have damaged their population quite dramatically by indiscriminately scooping up and jeopardizing the lives of everything in its path, including sea turtles. Fortunately, the shrimp industry is now required to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in both the U.S. and in Mexico. These devices allow sea turtles to escape through a hatch in the nets, and they have greatly reduced sea turtle mortality from shrimp fisherman (1,2). Still, sea turtles continue to get caught and die in shrimp trawl nets.
Since the enactment of harvest and commercial fishing limitations, Kemp’s ridleys have been able to recover to a small extent. Current setbacks to their recovery include beach traffic and development. Development disturbs nesting beaches by introducing things like seawalls and sand renourishment projects that impact the sand on which sea turtles nest. Another consequence of development is beachfront lighting, which attracts young hatchlings away from the moonlit ocean and into roads (3).
Pollution poses another serious threat to Kemp’s ridleys. Sea turtles have a hard time distinguishing plastic bags and other litter from food. When consumed, this litter becomes lodged in their digestive system and, eventually, will lead to death (3). Contaminants such as oil additionally impact Kemp’s ridleys. Following Deepwater Horizon, 600 sea turtles were found dead, 75% of which were Kemp’s ridleys (5).
- (2015) Kemp’s Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). NOAA Fisheries. <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/kempsridley.html>
- North Florida Ecological Services Office (2015) Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. <https://www.fws.gov/northflorida/seaturtles/turtle%20factsheets/kemps-ridley-sea-turtle.htm>
- Conservation Commission (2012) Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). Florida Fish and Wildlife. <http://myfwc.com/media/2212153/Kemps-ridley-sea-turtle.pdf>
- Conservation Commission (1999) Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii). Florida Fish and Wildlife. <http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=326026>
- (2014) 2010 Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill: Sea Turtles, Dolphins, And Whales. NOAA Fisheries. <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/oilspill/gulf2010.htm>
Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) get their name from their enormous heads (1,3). Their bodies are similarly large, earning them the title of the largest hard-shelled sea turtle. This red-brown species typically grows up to 3.5 feet long and can weigh from 400 pounds to as much as 1,000 pounds (1).
Loggerheads are listed as ‘Threatened’ under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Due to commercial fishing and other activities, their populations are quickly dwindling towards endangerment (1,2,4).
How They Live
Loggerhead sea turtle distribution. Photo Credit: NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons
Female loggerheads produce and bury an average of 100 eggs each nesting season (1,5). They prefer subtropical and temperate waters in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. In the United States, loggerheads nest on the Atlantic Coast from Texas to New Jersey during the summer and early fall (2,3). To protect their eggs during incubation, nesting females dig large holes with a side chamber, where the eggs are laid and then buried (1).
Loggerheads dig a huge holes with chambers in which to lay their eggs. Photo Credit: Hillebrand Steve, USFWS
During their two months of incubation, surrounding temperatures determine whether a hatchling will emerge a male or a female – warmer temperatures yield female hatchlings, while cooler temperatures yield males (1,5). Once the hatchlings emerge they follow the moonlight out to the ocean where they grow to adulthood feeding on both hard-shelled and soft-bodied prey. When female loggerheads reach 20 years old, they return to the beaches on which they were lain and begin the cycle anew (1).
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons
Why They’re Declining
Loggerhead sea turtles are classified as a ‘Vulnerable’ species by the IUCN and listed as ‘Threatened’ by the EPA (1,2,4). Their populations are in continual decline (4).
Incidental catch by industrial fishing operations is the primary cause of loggerhead decline worldwide. In the case of commercial shrimping, vessels targeting shrimp use large trawl nets. These nets indiscriminately scoop up everything in their path, including sea turtles. In the U.S., shrimp fishermen must use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). These devices allow sea turtles to escape through a hatch in the nets. This has reduced the threat caused by commercial fisheries, but not eliminated it (1,4).
Another factor contributing to the loggerheads continual decline is the loss and destruction of nesting beaches. As human development encroaches further and further onto beaches and sea levels rise, the space left for loggerheads is slowly squeezed out (1,3,4,5). The habitat that is left is subject to heavy predation, by humans, natural predators, and introduced species. In some cases, raccoons have been known to destroy more than 95 percent of nests on a single beach (3).
Photo Credit: MoodyGroove at en.wikipedia
Eggs that are fortunate enough to escape predation hatch, and face a host of new dangers. Light emitted from city glow, street lamps, and other exterior lighting disorients hatchlings that mistake it for the moonlit ocean. Disoriented, many loggerhead hatchlings head straight for the road (2,4). Hatchlings that make it to the ocean are forced to seek shelter from natural predators in pollutant-accumulating aquatic vegetation (5). Pollution will remain a threat throughout a loggerhead’s lifetime, as items such as balloons, plastics, and monofilament fishing line catch in their digestive system. Larger boating and fishing gear entanglement and boat strikes also pose serious threats to loggerhead sea turtles (1).
- Biscayne National Park Florida (2013) Lights Out For Loggerheads. South Carolina DNR. <https://www.nps.gov/bisc/learn/nature/species-focus-loggerhead-sea-turtles.htm>.
- Marine Turtle Conservation Program (2013) Lights Out For Loggerheads. South Carolina DNR. <http://www.dnr.sc.gov/seaturtle/lights.htm>.
- Endangered Species Unit (2016) Loggerhead Sea Turtle Fact Sheet. NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. <http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7156.html>.
- Casale P, Tucked AD (2015) Caretta caretta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T3897A83157651 <http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3897/0>.
- Partymiller L (2016) Species Profile: Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta Caretta) | SREL Herpetology. UGA Savannah River Ecology Lab. <http://srelherp.uga.edu/turtles/carcar.htm>.
Climate change and the resulting sea level rise are threatening key sea turtle nesting beaches around the world. As all seven species of sea turtles are already under threat, loss of key nesting beaches could be detrimental to turtle populations if rapid action is not taken. Read our fact sheet to get the important details from our full report, ‘Deadly Waters: The Threat of Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels to Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches.’
Climate Change: A Rising Tide
The current pace of climate change will be faster than anything experienced in the last 10,000 years, and therefore is an unprecedented threat to sea turtles whose populations are already vulnerable from human activities. Specifically, climate change will cause a loss of nesting beaches and coastal habitat through rising sea levels, increased female gender bias in hatchlings, reduced hatching success from high temperatures and increased storm events, decreased or shifting food supply, and changing ocean currents impacting migration.
Sea Turtle Nesting Behavior
Sea turtles return to their birthplace to lay eggs, breed and nest. When mature, the female turtles return to their natal beaches to nest. This is problematic if these beaches disappear as a result of sea level rises.
- Hawaiian sea turtles are at risk.
- 90 percent of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) nest in Hawaii on the French Frigate Shoals, part of an atoll located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This area could disappear due to sea level rise.
- Loggerhead sea turtles could lose 43 percent of their nesting habitat in Florida, where more than 10,000 females nest each year. This percentage is based on a model that assumes half meter sea level rise within the next 20 to 50 years.
- Texas sea turtles are at risk.
- Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is the second most important nesting site for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle in the world, and is vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels.
- Further research needs to be conducted to survey beach profiles and overlay that data with models of projected sea level rises and storm surges to identify the level of risk from climate change for olive ridley, hawksbill and flatback sea turtles.
- Ensure Major Nesting Beaches are Climate Resilient
- Establish Second Nesting Colonies at Key Species Nesting Sites
- Reduce Other Anthropogenic Threats to Sea Turtles at Priority Nesting Beaches
- Document Potential Loss of Major Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches Worldwide
- Reduce Climate Change Emissions to Bring Carbon Dioxide Levels Below 350 Parts Per Million
Read the full report here: https://seaturtles.org/deadlywaters/
- Hawaiian sea turtles are at risk.
For Kids & Classes
Join our Coho Photo Campaign!
Easy as 1,2,3…..
1) Take a photo holding up a sign that says why you think it is important to protect coho.
2) Upload your photo to social media and use the hashtag #SAVEMARINSCOHO
3) Get your friends to join, and exponentially increase your impact!
Below is the link to our sentence starter but feel free to make your own: PhotoCampaign_coho
Please make sure to share it with us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/salmonprotection?fref=ts
- 1 or 2 large cardboard box/cartons. I get these from appliance stores or bicycle shops
- 8 1-2″ wide strips of fabric about 1-2 ft. long. I got fabric from a thrift shop, old sheets or bed spreads work well for this (try to find a color that is similar to your turtle).
- Quart of exterior house paint (possibly some Z-prime for an undercoat depending on quality desired).
- A heavy-duty stapler with 3/8″ staples. Stapler needs to be the long handled heavy duty type. Staples longer than 3/8″ tend to bend and come back through the cardboard creating a sharp, snagging hazard.
Click here to download and view the full instructions.
Sea Turtle Costumes in Action (pictured below):
Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica is known worldwide as an ocean haven for spectacular sharks, rare sea turtles, whales and abundant marine wildlife. But even World Heritage status has not stopped commercial fishers from invading these treasured waters.
Turtle Island is working to demand that Costa Rica protect Cocos Island National Park create a protected area that connects all the way to Ecuador’s waters, northeast of the Galapagos Islands. These two nations could create one of the world’s largest protected ocean zones, and save the endangered leatherback turtle from extinction.
And now you can help us! We welcome experienced divers who want to participate in our ongoing research to help tag and track sea turtles and sharks in the Cocos Islands. You will get hands-on opportunities to capture turtles and attach satellite and acoustical transmitters and to tag and photograph hammerhead sharks underwater.