Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are marine reptiles with streamlined bodies and large flippers that are well-adapted to life in the ocean. Six species are found in U.S. waters, all of which are listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act

Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females lay their eggs on land. They migrate hundreds to thousands of miles every year between feeding grounds and nesting beaches. Leatherback turtles are among the most highly migratory animals on earth, traveling as many as 10,000 miles or more each year.

Sea turtles face significant threats around the world including:

  • Bycatch in commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Loss and degradation of nesting and foraging habitats due to coastal development, pollution, and climate change.
  • In some areas, killing of turtles and collection of eggs for consumption.
  • Entanglement in marine debris.
  • Vessel strikes.

In the United States, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have shared jurisdiction for recovery and conservation of threatened and endangered sea turtles. We lead the conservation and recovery of sea turtles in the marine environment, while the U.S. FWS has the lead for the conservation and recovery of these animals on nesting beaches.

Internationally, the conservation and recovery of sea turtles requires multilateral cooperation to ensure the survival of these highly migratory species. We work to ensure the global conservation and recovery of sea turtles by working closely with other nations through diplomatic channels, capacity building, and scientific exchange.

Learn more about sea turtles.


Species News

A Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) cruises just under the surface after having taken a breath. A Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) cruises just under the surface after having taken a breath. NMFS MMPA Permit No.21938. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Richard Holt.
Picture of turtle and monk seal sleeping on a beach. NOAA teams recently departed to study and protect Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles in the remote islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.
Marked green sea turtle swimming. Green sea turtle numbered MA72 was treated for fishing line entanglement at the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute and seen swimming off Honokeana Cove, West Maui. Sightings of rehabilitated animals help researchers track their recovery process.
Canh Nguyen demonstrating how to sew on a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Flap during a TED building workshop. Canh Nguyen demonstrating how to sew on a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Flap during a TED building workshop. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

Research

Peer-Reviewed Research

Sea Turtles Across the North Pacific Are Exposed to Perfluoroalkyl Substances

A risk assessment showed concern for immunosuppression in Kailua green turtles and alarming concern…

Peer-Reviewed Research

Species and Population Specific Gene Expression in Blood Transcriptomes of Marine Turtles

We generated high quality blood transcriptome assemblies for hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata),…

Peer-Reviewed Research

No Rest for the Weary: Restricted Resting Behavior of Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) at a Deep-Neritic Foraging Area Influences Expression of Life History Traits

In this study, we fitted 18 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) with detachable time-depth recorder …

Peer-Reviewed Research

Publications by Northeast Passive Acoustic Research Staff

Our staff regularly publish their findings in scientific journals and Center-produced documents…

Insight

Recovery of Endangered and Threatened Species

Learn how NOAA Fisheries works with partners to protect and recover endangered and threatened marine species.

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Species

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