Florida – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) changed the status of some green sea turtle species from endangered to threatened. The federal agencies made the information public on its website on April 5, 2016. There are many types of green sea turtles and the legislation applies to the ones found in the United States and Mexico.

According to the article, the status change is the result of conservation efforts carried out by different wild life preservation organizations around the world. They also praise the work of law enforcers and agencies.

They separated the species in 11 segments. 3 of these segments will remain as endangered, but the other 8 will be changed to threatened. The division allows specialists to keep track on the turtles’ development and to elaborate better conservation strategies. When wildlife is considered to be endangered, it means it’s almost extinct. It is the second most critical categorization only topped by critical endangered, like the Javan Rhino or the Mountain Gorilla. The threatened status is not the best scenario, but is the first step in the right direction.

The USFWS and the NOAA changed the status of some green sea turtle species from endangered to threatened. Photo credit: Nat Geo Kids
The USFWS and the NOAA changed the status of some green sea turtle species from endangered to threatened. Photo credit: Nat Geo Kids

“Successful conservation and management efforts developed in Florida and along the Pacific coast of Mexico are a roadmap for further recovery strategies of green turtle populations around the world,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Identifying distinct population segments across the green sea turtle’s range provides flexibility for managers to address specific challenges facing individual populations with a tailored approach. Ultimately, this will help us protect and conserve green sea turtles more efficiently and effectively, so that we can achieve our goal of recovering the species.”

There are many threats for sea turtles.

The most common problem these sea animals have to deal with are nets. Gilnets, pound nets and fishery in general are a great danger for them. Nets are not meant to catch turtles, but they frequently find themselves trapped and drown. Fishers are also a major threat to these creatures, even if they are playing catch and release, fishing hooks can damage the swimming ability of the animals, which eventually kills them.

Marine debris and environmental contamination play a big role here. Turtles usually swallow toy parts or are trapped by plastic bags, but it does not stop there. Artificial generated sound and light change animals behavior keeping them from surfacing to nesting areas. And in that regard, people trespassing their territory makes impossible for female turtles to go inland and deposit their eggs.

There is also the construction problem, companies working on areas where the animals bury their eggs is a major problem. Even when they are already buried, heavy machinery crushes or exposes them to predators.

We are not the only thing harming turtles. There is a weird disease called fibropapillomatosis which affects these creatures. However, we are still their biggest problem.

Messing with endangered species is expensive.

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) the Federal Government Issue fines against people who it considers are affecting in a negative way protected animals. There many categories for this crime; physical harm, habitat modification, handling and a very long ETC. In fact, people should be really careful where they stand when they are on vacation since the fines go from a couple hundred dollars to whooping $15,000. In extreme cases, the offender has to pay whatever the law seems fit.

The list of violations is huge, you obviously cannot kill any endangered species, sell them, trade them or change their habitats. For example, if you hung a tire swing from a tree, and in that tree there are protected squirrels, you have to pay a fine.

There has been a lot of controversy around the list.

Both the USFWS and the NOAA are tasked with creating the list of endangered species. The process is usually very long and full of scrutiny. Mainly because there are a lot of companies that lose a lot of money if a particular animal falls into this category. The Bush administration revoked a law that required contractors to consult a wildlife expert before getting the green light for a project, but President Barack Obama had this policy reinstated.

The criteria used by the agencies to consider any animal for the list is mostly based on its numbers. When a species reduces its numbers in a dramatic way, they study if there is human inference to take appropriate measures. So far, there are around 2,245 animals listed as endangered or threatened.

It might seem little, but the results of the conservation efforts that put green sea turtles one more step away from extinction raise hope for many other species.

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service