Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

The Endangered Species Act: 50 Years of Conserving Species

May 19, 2023

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act by learning more about NOAA's work to conserve endangered species and their habitats.

50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act with smalltooth sawfish, green turtle, Atlantic salmon, staghorn, North Atlantic right whale, and Tubastraea floreana

Join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, May 19–December 28, 2023! This landmark legislation is a powerful and effective tool for conserving species and their habitats.  

Under the Act, NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection, conservation, and recovery of more than 160 endangered and threatened marine and anadromous species. At NOAA Fisheries, we rely on the best available science to implement the ESA. During this monumental commemoration of 50 years, we highlight our science, conservation, partnerships, and people who implement the ESA through the features and videos below.

Follow along on our NOAA Fisheries social media channels and stay tuned for more content.

Features

Frequently Asked Questions—Rice’s Whales

Learn about Rice’s whales—their population status, habitat, threats, and other frequently asked questions.

Read the frequently asked questions

Image
NOAA Fisheries is Pleased to Announce a New Scientific Research Paper that Describes a New Species of Baleen Whale in the Gulf of Mexico
Rice's whale

Supporting Endangered Atlantic Sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay

Work in the Chesapeake Bay includes identifying and protecting habitat used by these fish for spawning, seeking to minimize vessel strikes, and educating students about these fish.

Supporting endangered Atlantic sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay

Image
Two sturgeon swim above a gravelly bottom
Atlantic sturgeon near rocky bottom.

Green Turtle Conservation Successes and Continuing Challenges

A look at successes and challenges faced by different green turtle populations.

Green sea turtle conservation successes and challenges

Image
Sea turtle swims above sea grass
Juvenile green turtle swimming over a bed of seagrass. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Smalltooth Sawfish and Climate Change: Impacts of Habitat Loss on Range and Distribution

Unpredictable weather patterns, warming ocean temperatures, and rising sea levels caused by climate change reduce available habitat for the endangered smalltooth sawfish.

Smalltooth sawfish and climate change

Image
smalltooth sawfish swimming under the water
Smalltooth sawfish get their name from their distinct rostrum—a long, flat snout edged with teeth—which they use to slash through schools of fish, swinging it from side to side to impale and stun prey. Their rostra also contain electro-sensitive organs, which help sawfish identify when prey is nearby. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Sharks, Rays, and Climate Change: Impacts on Habitat, Prey Distribution, and Health

Warming ocean temperatures and more intense storms caused by climate change are impacting prey availability and habitat quality for migratory sharks and rays, keystone species in the ocean.

More on sharks, rays, and climate change

Image
Swimming oceanic whitetip shark
The oceanic whitetip shark’s scientific name—Carcharhinus longimanus—comes from its long, rounded pectoral fin (Longimanus translates to “long hands”). Credit: Andy Mann

Celebrating Sea Turtle Conservation and Recovery Efforts

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, we are shining a spotlight on our recovery efforts to reduce bycatch to protect and conserve sea turtles.

Recovery efforts to reduce sea turtle bycatch

Image
loggerhead (no. 2) immature flower gardens nms photo by G.P. Schmahl.jpg

NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Propose Revisions to Regulations Implementing the Endangered Species Act

NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are proposing a series of revisions to the joint regulations that guide their implementation of this landmark statute.

Proposed revisions to regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act

Image
School of adult chinook salmon
Spring chinook salmon. Credit: Michael Humling/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Alaska’s Threatened and Endangered Species

In celebration of the Endangered Species Act’s 50th Anniversary, NOAA is featuring the marine mammal and sea turtle species found in Alaska that are protected under the ESA.

Learn more about Alaska's threatened and endangered species

Image
Eastern North Pacific right whales are the most endangered whale population in the world — only an estimated 30 whales remain.
Eastern North Pacific right whales are the most endangered whale population in the world — only an estimated 30 whales remain.

The “Steller” Success Story of a Sea Lion Population

Removed from the Endangered Species List in 2013, the eastern distinct population segment of the Steller sea lion is still recovered a decade later.

Success story of a sea lion population

Image
A Steller sea lion mom and calf.
A Steller sea lion mom and calf.

Threatened and Endangered Species of the Southeastern United States

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act by getting to know some of the threatened and endangered species found in the waters of the southeastern United States.

Threatened and endangered species of the Southeastern United States

Image
A Rice’s whale swimming near the surface.
A Rice's whale swimming near the surface. Credit: NOAA Fisheries (ESA/MMPA Permit No. 779-1633).

ESA Turns 50: A Conversation in Sawfish Conservation

Experts meet to celebrate smalltooth sawfish and talk about the future of the species.

Learn more about endangered smalltooth sawfish

Image
Scientists hold a sawfish in the water while tagging
Sawfish tagging. Credit: Tonya Wiley.

Celebrating the People and Partnerships Saving Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles

Marking the 50th year of the passage of the Endangered Species Act, we are shining a spotlight on the biologists and partnerships saving Pacific leatherback sea turtles from extinction.

Celebrating the people and partners saving Pacific leatherback sea turtles

Image
People in orange life vests aboard a vessel posing with a large leatherback turtle
Scientists tag a 607 kg Leatherback sea turtle on the deck of the R/V Sheila B before releasing it back to the water. Left to Right: Scott Benson, John Douglas, Denise Greg, Mike James, Lauren Donnelly-Crocker. Credit: Heather Harris. Permit # 1596.

Celebrating the People and Partnerships Saving Sacramento River Winter-Run Chinook Salmon

Marking the 50th year of the passage of the Endangered Species Act, we are shining a spotlight on the biologists and partnerships saving Sacramento River winter-run Chinook Salmon from extinction.

Celebrating the people and partners saving Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon

Image
Three people smiling for the camera, standing on a rocky riverbed
Brian Ellrott (left), NOAA Fisheries’ Sacramento River Winter-Run Chinook Salmon Recovery Coordinator, and colleagues, Cathy Marcinkevage and Howard Brown conducting habitat investigations on local rivers in California.

Celebrating the People and Partnerships Saving Southern Resident Killer Whales

Marking the 50th year of the passage of the Endangered Species Act, we are shining a spotlight on the biologists and partnerships saving Southern Resident killer whales from extinction.

Celebrating the people and partners saving Southern Resident killer whales

Image
Killer whale moving rapidly through the water
A Southern Resident Killer whale is seen through a zoom lens cruising through water. Killer whales are among the fastest swimming marine mammals, swimming up to 35 mph. Credit: NOAA/Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Video: Climate Change and Marine Animals—A Conservation Challenge

Climate-driven changes such as higher ocean temperatures and extreme weather events are affecting the health of marine animals—and their ability to survive.

Watch the video on climate change and marine mammals 

Saving Central California Coast Coho: Celebrating People and Partnerships Behind Recovery

Marking the 50th year of the passage of the Endangered Species Act, we are shining a spotlight on the biologists and partnerships saving Central California Coast coho from extinction.

Celebrating the people and partners saving Central California Coast coho

Image
Two women looking up and smiling at the camera
Erin Seghesio (left), NOAA Fisheries’ Central California Coast Coho Recovery Coordinator and Jodi Charrier, salmon biologist, visit Lagunitas Creek in 2021 to monitor the drought conditions and its impact on CCC coho salmon living in the creek.

Celebrating the People and Partnerships Saving White Abalone

Marking the 50th year of the passage of the Endangered Species Act, we are shining a spotlight on the biologists and partnerships saving white abalone from extinction.

Celebrating the people and partners saving white abalone

Image
Baby white abalone crawling on a kelp stipe
Baby white abalone crawling on a kelp stipe at the Aquarium of the Pacific captive breeding facility. Credit: Jen Burney, Aquarium of the Pacific

Join NOAA Fisheries in Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act

NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit discusses how the Endangered Species Act is a powerful and effective tool for conserving species and their habitats.

Read her leadership message

Image
750x500-leatherback-sea-turtle.jpg
An endangered leatherback sea turtle swimming at the ocean surface. Once prevalent in almost every ocean, the leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world. As one of NOAA Fisheries’ Species in the Spotlight, we have made it a priority to focus recovery efforts on stabilizing and recovering the leatherback sea turtle to prevent its extinction. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

Podcast: The Endangered Species Act at 50 

Listen in! NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit celebrates 50 years of the Endangered Species Act and discusses why it is such a foundational law.

Listen to the podcast

Zoomed in photo of Hawaiian monk seal pup with mom in the beach waters.
RK96 (Kaiwi) with her nearly two-week old pup on Kaimana Beach, Waikīkī. The pup was born on April 14, 2023. Credit: Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response.

Video: NOAA Fisheries and the Endangered Species Act

Species in the Spotlight

Of all the species NOAA Fisheries protects under the Endangered Species Act, we consider nine among the most at risk of extinction in the near future.

Learn more about our Species in the Spotlight efforts

Endangered Species Conservation

To implement the Endangered Species Act, we rely on the best available science. We work with international federal, tribal, state, and local agencies, as well as nongovernmental organizations and private citizens. 

Dive into endangered species conservation

The Endangered Species Act continues to be a powerful and effective tool for conserving species and their habitats. Less than 1 percent of the species listed under the ESA have gone extinct. Others have been recovered to the point where they no longer need protections under the ESA.

Learn about some of our success stories 

Image
Shortnose sturgeon in the Connecticut River, CT. Copyright: Robert S. Michelson/Photography by Michelson, Inc.
Shortnose sturgeon in the Connecticut River, CT. Copyright: Robert S. Michelson/Photography by Michelson, Inc.

Last updated by Office of Communications on February 07, 2024

Endangered Species Recovery