Save Sea Turtles Now
Sea turtles need new legislation that will provide funding to critical rescue and rehabilitation efforts. This petition calls on leaders in the House and Senate to pass proposed legislation to do just that, legislation that has already been introduced by both Democrats and Republicans in the two houses of Congress. Please sign this letter today to show your support for passing those bills soon.
Senator Maria Cantwell, Senate Commerce Committee, Chair
Senator Ted Cruz, Senate Commerce Committee, Ranking Member
Representative Bruce Westerman, House Natural Resources Committee, Chair
Representative Raul Grijalva, House Natural Resources Committee, Ranking Member
Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:
Every year thousands of sea turtles in US waters are injured by marine debris, entanglements, boat strikes, pneumonia from being stunned by cold water and stranding. When these marvelous creatures strand on our coastal beaches, dozens of organizations, including many zoos, aquariums and local environmental organizations rush to rescue them and then spend months caring for and rehabilitating the turtles before they are returned to the ocean. The sea turtle networks spend millions of dollars every year rescuing and rehabilitating these ancient, beautiful swimmers.
But unlike the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals like whales, porpoises, and seals, there is no direct federal money available for sea turtle rescue. Marine mammals have a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) but sea turtle rescue gets NO direct federal support. Right now, the zoos, aquariums, and local NGOs take on turtle rescue because it’s the right thing to do. However, they can’t do that forever without resources from the federal government, especially as the number of sea turtles needing rescue goes up .
Environmental stressors like warming waters, ocean cold snaps, plastic pollution, red tides (harmful algal blooms), boat strikes and more are on the increase. More sea turtles are in trouble. At least 2,000 turtles required rescue on the east coast in 2022. In 2021, over 12,000 turtles were stranded on Texas beaches from a cold snap but only 4,000 could ultimately be rescued and returned to the ocean.
That is why we are asking you to: (1) make the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act of 2023 (S. 2086 and H.R. 2650) a priority for passage in this Congress; and (2) provide money for sea turtle rescue in next year’s appropriations for NOAA. The amount of money is relatively small, up to $5 million each year for the next several years, but the impact on sea turtle populations would be great.
Sea turtles are among the Earth’s most ancient species, adapted so well that they’ve survived for at least 110 million years largely unchanged. We’ve changed their world; now we’re responsible for keeping them around. And this legislation is critical for that purpose.
Why Protect the Sea Turtles?
Every year thousands of sea turtles are injured by marine debris, entanglements, boat strikes, pneumonia from being stunned by cold water and become stranded on our beaches. These beautiful ancient species have survived for over 100 million years. Now all six turtle species that live in US waters are listed as endangered or threatened.
Many organizations expend a great amount of time and millions of dollars to rescue and rehabilitate turtles stranded on beaches and in the water. But today there is NO federal government money for their work. We want to change that.
Sea turtles need new legislation that will provide funding to those rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Our petition letter asks leaders in the House and Senate to pass proposed legislation to do just that, legislation that has already been introduced by both Democrats and Republicans in the two houses of Congress. Please sign that letter today to show your support for passing those bills soon.
Unlike marine mammals rescue and rehabilitation efforts which receive money from a special grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sea turtle rescue organizations receive no direct funding from the federal government. The new legislation proposed by bipartisan House and Senate members would do for sea turtles what NOAA already does for marine mammals like seal and whales.
With the increase of environmental stressors such as warming waters, more intense storms, plastic pollution, and red tides (harmful algal blooms), more sea turtles are at risk. At least 2,000 turtles required rescue on the east coast in 2022, while over 1,000 turtles have been stranded this year so far in Florida alone.
With your support of the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act (S. 2086), introduced by Senators Van Hollen (D-MD), Markey (D-MA) and Cornyn (R-TX), and House bill (HR. 25650) sponsored by three Democrats and three Republicans, together with the support of 53 institutions, we hope to make these bills a priority for passage in this year’s Congress.
By signing our letter, you will help provide up to $5 million each year to help endangered sea turtles and allow for their continued rescue and rehabilitation. Threatened marine life like turtles need all the help we can give them.