Conservation efforts have paid off for the green sea turtles found on the Pacific coast of Mexico and the coast of Florida: they have been reclassified from endangered to threatened.
Chelonia mydas was first classified as endangered in the two areas in 1978 while worldwide they were designated as threatened. During that year, just 100 breeding females remained on the Florida coast.
This week, the situation was reversed: the Mexico and Florida turtles are now considered threatened while worldwide they are seen as endangered.
Successful conservation efforts have included a prohibition of hunting the turtles for their meat and protection measures to reduce the numbers caught accidentally in commercial fishing nets, said biologist Jennifer Schultz of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor.
Protecting beaches where the turtles nest and managing light pollution were also factors, said the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
Threats remain for the turtles, said the NOAA, but the reclassification indicates how partnerships between U.S. agencies and states and other countries can make a difference.
Along with that reclassification, authorities divided the world’s green sea turtle population into 11 sub-populations to allow for better targeting of conservation efforts towards those that need them.
Named for the green color of their fat, the turtles grow to 1.5 meters in length, weigh up to nearly 200 kilograms and can live for as long as 80 years.
They nest all along Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Source: Christian Science Monitor (en)