19 March 2010


A proposal was recently made public by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Service to change conservation status of American Northwest Atlantic populations of loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) to be treated as Endangered.

Florida accounts for over 90% of loggerhead nesting in the United States. Regrettably, nesting throughout this State has declined by over 40% since1998. The greatest threat to its survival today seems to be accidental capture, injury and death in commercial fisheries.
Concern about the species was triggered during the most recent chilling event in Florida, when almost all of the turtles rescued from the cold waters were green turtles –as opposed to previous cold events, when loggerheads accounted for about half of the captures. These findings raise concern that juvenile loggerheads, as well as nesting adults, could be in decline.

Strong conservation actions need to be taken on other critical populations along the Caribbean. Populations of Caretta caretta almost disappeared from historical nesting sites in Eastern Venezuela that, according to marine turtle conservation leader Hedelvy Guada, have suffered a drastic decline in recent times. Although currently listed as “Endandered” in Venezuela, similar to the category granted by the IUCN on global terms, Guada, based on the country local nesting crashes of this species (locally known as “tortuga cabezona”, “Caguama” or Carey”) have proposed to change its conservation status to Critically Endangered. Colombian populations have, also, diminished drastically. Nesting sites in other Caribbean places are scarce, although important colonies are present in Mexico. The largest numbers of nesting sites occur in the later, as well as along the Southeast coast of the United States, and some coasts of Brazil. 

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