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

Gear team making real time adjustments to a turtle excluder device being tested. Southeast Fisheries Science Center gear team members, Dan Foster (left) and Nick Hopkins, make real time adjustments to the TED they are testing. Credit: NOAA Fisheries
750x500-sea-turtle-fishermen-cut-line-safely-NOAA-PIRO.jpg Fishermen: Itʻs OK to help a hooked green sea turtle by cutting off the line as close to the hook as possible. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Multimedia

Galv_loggerhead_turtle_t._moore_noaa_via_wikimedia_750_500.png Loggerhead turtle. Credit: T. Moore (CC0 1.0)
Biologist on a ship collecting data during buoyless lobster trap tests. A Northeast Fisheries Science Center biologist collecting data during buoyless lobster trap tests.
Oceanic whitetip shark swimming in the open ocean. Oceanic whitetip sharks, so named for the patch of white on their dorsal fins, are a threatened species. Credit: Andy Mann.

Research

Peer-Reviewed Research

Publications by Northeast Passive Acoustic Research Staff

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

Peer-Reviewed Research

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.

Protected Species Gear Research

We work closely with the commercial fishing industry to reduce harmful interactions with marine mammals, turtles, and other protected species.

Developing Viable On-Demand Gear Systems

On-Demand gear development at the Center continues to evolve with the help of industry.

Recovery of Endangered and Threatened Species

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

Hawaiian monk seal

Species

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