A new survey of sea life in the Pacific Ocean suggests that some endangered sea turtles are making a comeback. The survey showed that populations of green sea turtles along dozens of coral reefs in waters around Hawaii and other nearby regions either remained stable or increased from 2002 to 2015.
The scientists behind the survey, which was described April 24 in the journal Plos One, called the finding compelling evidence that conservation efforts like hunting bans are working.
“You often hear such bad and challenging news about the threats that our ocean faces,” said Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, and leader of the team of researchers that conducted the survey. “There are places where there are a lot of sea turtles very close to shore. And that’s good news.”
Once hunted for their meat, green sea turtles were designated an endangered species in 1978. They’re now protected under U.S. law and international treaties.
The same survey suggested that populations of hawksbill turtles, another protected species that is even more endangered, remain perilously low.
The survey effort began almost by accident, according to Van Houtan. On a research expedition to count fish living on reefs, divers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found themselves counting turtles, too. Read more…