Thursday, 27 March 2014

Lawsuit Could Save Thousands of Sea Turtles (Op-Ed)

Amanda Keledjian, Oceana | March 26, 2014 01:51am ET

Amanda Keledjian is a marine scientist at Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world's oceans. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

On March 1, the sea-turtle nesting season officially began in Florida, with the wondrous appearance of leatherback sea turtles returning to lay their eggs. Later this spring, loggerhead and green sea-turtles will follow suit, flocking to Florida's beaches in large numbers. The state is an important destination for these marine reptiles; of the seven different sea-turtle species in the world, five call these warm waters home at some point during their migrations. In fact, Florida's beaches host more nesting turtles than any other state.

Driven by an incredible instinct to return to the same beaches where they themselves were born, these turtles might not know that they are swimming into waters used by shrimp trawlers, one of sea turtles' most dangerous and deadly obstacles. Shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. southeast Atlantic kill or injure an estimated 53,000 sea turtles — every year — as the ships tow huge nets the width of football fields slowly through the water, trapping almost everything in their wake.

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