California’s Fish and Game Commission voted last week to include their state reptile on the list of endangered species. The Pacific leatherback turtle population has been on the decline for the past three decades.
According to EcoWatch, these turtles have declined 5.6 percent per year in the last almost 30 years.
“California’s action will make an outsized difference for leatherback sea turtles, even in the face of global threats like the loss of nesting beaches. Protecting the state’s ocean to save leatherbacks benefits not only sea turtles, but whales and people too. The California Endangered Species Act will ensure that leatherbacks’ decline gets the attention it deserves during this global biodiversity crisis,” says Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) attorney Catherine Kilduff.
As reported by AP, they are the world’s largest turtle species and have been on the federal endangered species list since 1973. But scientists now know more about how crucial California is to their survival.
A federal review of leatherback sea turtle science last year concluded that West Pacific leatherbacks, one of seven distinct populations of leatherback sea turtles worldwide, face a high extinction risk, reports CBD.
Putting these reptiles under the California Endangered Species Act would make them a priority in the state.