Care2 Success! Leatherback Turtles Protected In Puerto Rico

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Care2 Success! Leatherback Turtles Protected In Puerto Rico

Post  Admin on Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:14 pm

A beautiful stretch of Puerto Rico’s north coast that developers have long coveted is now a nature reserve.

The new reserve makes up 66 percent of what is known as the Northeast Ecological Corridor, located just north of El Yunque rainforest, a popular tourist attraction, and is also considered one of the prime nesting sites for the endangered leatherback turtle.

Over 18,400 of you signed our petition, sponsored by the Sierra Club, asking that this land be designated as federal critical habitat for leatherback sea turtles. Now these creatures get to keep their nesting grounds.

Under pressure from environmental activists, Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Fortuno last week changed his mind and signed a law protecting these 1,950 acres of state-owned land from large-scale development. This reverses his decision of several years ago when he revoked the land’s protected status to attract developers and boost the island’s sluggish economy. It’s great to hear that the governor has now made the right eco-decision.

Things are looking up for leatherback turtles: last January, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designated nearly 42,000 square miles of ocean along the West Coast of the U.S. as critical habitat for the Pacific leatherback turtle.

Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtles, and the largest living reptiles, in the world, sometimes measuring 9 feet long and weighing as much as three refrigerators, or more than 1,200 pounds. Their life span is not fully known, but they are believed to live at least 40 years and possibly as long as 100 years.

The worldwide population has declined by 95 percent since the 1980s because of commercial fishing, egg poaching, destruction of nesting habitat, degradation of foraging habitat and changing ocean conditions. Listed as endangered since 1970 under the Endangered Species Act, there are believed to be only 2,000 to 5,700 nesting females left in the world.
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