Green sea turtles are no longer on the Endangered Species List. According to the authorities, these creatures have spawned to healthy numbers but continue to remain vulnerable. Hence, their risk classification has been revised to “Threatened.”
Federal officials confirmed that years of conservation efforts have been successful in helping the green sea turtles of Florida and the Pacific coast of Mexico. These amazing creatures are now being reclassified from endangered to threatened. The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) had to be registered in the list maintained under the Endangered Species Act, way back in 1978.
After years of carefully coordinated conservation efforts, the breeding of the green sea turtles has been observed to be quite healthy. The turtles, native to Florida and the Pacific coast of Mexico, will be reclassified from endangered to threatened, confirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The reclassification is ample proof that other species which continue to remain critically endangered, can be successfully brought back from the brink of extinction, said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries.
“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. Accomplishments in Florida and Mexico are a roadmap for further recovery strategies of green turtle populations around the world.”
The reclassification, however, comes after nearly four decades of tireless efforts by conservationists who protected these creatures when they were at their most fragile state of growth. The eggs and the hatchlings are the most delicate and have to be constantly guarded from predators, including humans. Of the hundreds of hatchlings, only a few dozen are known to survive the arduous crawl to the open ocean.
Before they can take their first swim, many are killed or devoured by natural predators. Even after they have entered the ocean, these turtles aren’t safe and many die in their first year due to various reasons. A lot of these creatures are accidentally caught by fishing nets. Other threats include plastic marine debris, habitat loss, climate change, and a debilitating tumor-causing disease called fibropapillomatosis.
Does the reclassification mean the green sea turtles are no longer under threat of extinction? Under the Endangered Species Act, “endangered” species are those with a high risk of extinction in the wild. In other words, unless extreme conservation efforts are undertaken on a war footing, these species won’t survive for long. Being reclassified as “threatened” means the population of green sea turtles is growing healthily and is able to thrive, even if some members of the species die due to natural causes.
However, the reclassification certainly doesn’t mean the species is absolutely safe. If rapid numbers are killed due to some reason, these creatures could be back on the endangered list once again.
After the green sea turtles were put on the endangered list, they were accorded protection from their biggest predator: man. Turtles were often butchered for their meat, which continues to remain in high demand, despite the threat of incarceration if the person is found to be in possession of the creatures.
Additionally, conservation efforts included limiting light pollution that confuses the sea turtles. By cordoning off nesting grounds, efforts were made to ensure the eggs hatched. Protection also reduced the amount of turtles accidentally trapped in commercial fishing nets, reported The Christian Science Monitor.
Turtles undertake incredible journeys across the oceans for most of the lives, only to loyally return to shore to build nests on the beach, shared Catherine Kilduff, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The knowledge that green sea turtles can overcome illegal harvest, plastic pollution, and warming waters testifies to their resilience,” she said.
While it is indeed heartening to see the population of green sea turtles growing, the reclassification shows how partnerships between various government agencies and other originations are making a real difference for imperiled species, reported Fox News.
[Photo by Stanislaw Pytel/Getty Images]