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.
Our staff regularly publish their findings in scientific journals and Center-produced documents.
Evaluation of a Long-Term Information Tool Reveals Continued Suitability for Identifying Bycatch Hotspots but Little Effect on Fisher Location Choice
We reviewed one of the longest and earliest DOM informational products, TurtleWatch.
Encouraging Respectful Wildlife Viewing Among Tourists: Roles for Social Marketing, Regulatory Information, Symbolic Barriers, and Enforcement
A study documenting improved compliance with wildlife viewing distances using a social marketing…
Use of Drift Studies to Understand Seasonal Variability in Sea Turtle Stranding Patterns in Mississippi
In this study stranded sea turtles provide valuable information about causes of mortality.