“We Want the Leatherback Sea Turtle to Be California’s Marine Reptile”

San Francisco – Sea turtle advocates delivered more than 250 hand colored letters from Pacifica’s school children and residents to state Senator Leland Yee today urging his support for conservation of the endangered leatherback sea turtle that swims along the California coast. The letters were written by students at Ortega and Sunset Ridge elementary schools.

The letters also called on Senator Yee to vote in favor of a bill (AB 1776) that will designate the Pacific leatherback sea turtle as the state’s official marine reptile and name October 15 each year as Leatherback Conservation Day in California. Yee is a member of the Senate Government Organization Committee that will vote on the bill on Tuesday, June 12, in Sacramento.

“Please save the turtles, they mean so much to the kids and teachers at Sunset Ridge,” wrote a student named Angelique.

“We need to save the sea animal and don’t litter in the ocean so we can save the turtle, dolphins and whales,” wrote Grace.

“Please try to make sure that sea turtles stay away from extinction,” wrote another student who forgot to sign his or her name.

The letter-writing effort was organized by Lynn Adams of Pacifica Beach Coalition and Chris Pincetich of SeaTurtles.org to help educate students and their families about the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. These sea turtles are the largest in the world and swim across the Pacific ocean to feed on jellyfish along the California coast.

“Everyone loves sea turtles and is amazed that the giant leatherback is a regular visitor to our coastline,” said Adams. “We were thrilled to get students and the community involved in leatherback conservation.” The Pacifica Beach Coalition is a project of Pacifica’s Environmental Family, a registered nonprofit organization whose goal is to increase environmental awareness in the community and in the schools.

“Each letter is a work of art with a unique message from every student about how much they care about sea turtles and the oceans,” said Chris Pincetich, Outreach and Education Manager at SeaTurtles.org in Marin County. “Every voice makes a difference in our efforts to save the leatherback from extinction.”
SeaTurtles.org works to educate and involve the public in the protection of the Pacific leatherback and all ocean life.

California waters are a globally important foraging area for leatherbacks and these endangered species are an ecologically important part of the marine ecosystem. In recognition of new scientific information demonstrating the importance of California waters to the survival of Pacific leatherbacks, the National Marine Fisheries Service recently designated critical habitat off the U.S. west coast, including 16,910 square miles off California’s coast.