Celebrating Sea Turtle Week 

Sub title
A Dive into the World of our Ocean Guardians
Release Date
06/10/2024

Overview

Sea Turtle Week, from June 8th-16th, aims to raise awareness about sea turtles, their habitats, and their struggle for survival.  

This year, the week begins with World Ocean Day (June 8) and ends with World Sea Turtle Day (June 16).  

Did you know that six of the seven sea turtle species can be found in the United States? All of them are considered either threatened or endangered.  And this week, we’re celebrating each of these amazing species.

Image
Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (photo credit: NOAA)

Physical Characteristics

According to fossil evidence, sea turtles have existed in the world’s oceans for at least 150 million years. Despite their long history, their survival is now in question due to human activities. Each species has unique features and diets but all play essential roles in their ecosystems by regulating the populations of the marine plants and invertebrates they consume. 

Image
Olive Ridley Turtle
Olive Ridley Turtle (photo credit: NOAA)

Habitat and Distribution

In U.S. waters, sea turtles inhabit various environments: from sandy bottoms and seagrass meadows to the open ocean. They are found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, the Pacific Coast, and offshore the Hawaiian Islands, along with Puerto Rico, American Samoa and other US territories. Their feeding behaviors facilitate nutrient cycling and enhance biodiversity within these marine ecosystems.

Image
Green Sea Turtle - Richard Carey - Dreamstime - NOAA
Green Sea Turtle (photo credit: NOAA)

Behavior and Population

Sea turtles are known for their long migrations, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles between feeding and nesting habitats. Females come ashore only to lay eggs, often on the very beaches where they were born. After laying eggs, they return to the ocean, leaving the hatchlings to find their way to the water.

Each summer, thousands of people gather on US beaches to witness sea turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests and dash to the water. Despite this public interest, sea turtles still face significant threats, including illegal harvesting, habitat encroachment, pollution, and climate change. 

Image
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (photo credit: National Wildlife Federation)

Conservation Efforts

Sea Turtle Week 2024 aims to highlight the need for direct human involvement in sea turtle conservation. In the United Staes, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects sea turtles, making it illegal to harm them. Many states and local governments have additional regulations to protect sea turtles, such as controlling beachfront lighting that can disorient nesting turtles and hatchlings. Education programs for coastal communities also play a crucial role in conservation.

Protecting feeding and nesting grounds, raising hatchlings in captivity, and reducing marine debris are essential measures to ensure sea turtles' survival. As vital parts of marine ecosystems and indicators of ocean health, sea turtles' continued existence depends on effective conservation efforts. 

Image
Leatherback Turtle Swimming
Leatherback Sea Turtle (photo credit: NOAA Fisheries)

BOEM's Mission  

At the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), our effort to balance the need for energy security with environmental protection requires that we use data-driven science to inform our decision-making. This enables us to respect and conserve ocean habitats and marine life, including sea turtles.  

By supporting research and implementing regulations, we help to ensure that energy development activities do not compromise marine ecosystems. This commitment to balancing energy needs with environmental stewardship is essential for the preservation of marine life and habitats.

This year, to celebrate Sea Turtle Week, we will highlight some of the sea turtle species that we have studied. We will share interesting highlights about these turtles and some of our innovative findings and future research plans. 

Image
Loggerhead Turtle
Loggerhead Sea Turtle (photo credit: Loggerhead Marine Life Center)

 

-- BOEM --

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) manages development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy, mineral, and geological resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way.