Leatherback Sea Turtle

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Leatherback Turtle

Species: Reptile

Range: The coasts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Research has revealed that leatherbacks are more loaded in Atlantic Canada from July through to the end of October, with the highest amount of turtles occurring on the Scotian Shelf and Slope, southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and south coast of Newfoundland. The leatherback has also been seen less frequently off the coast of British Columbia.

Designation: The leatherback turtle was listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered in 1970.

Threats
Leatherbacks are facing extinction mainly due to human impacts on their environment. Nesting sites are disturbed through tourism or commercial development, and poachers often harvest eggs for food. Adult turtles are sometimes captured for food and their body parts are used for various commercial products (like traditional medicines). Turtles can also be killed and injured in collisions with boats. In particular, garbage dumped at sea or from land may be mistaken for food and swallowed by the turtles, causing severe injuries and death. Similarly, turtles become trapped in fishing nets and drown.

Protection
The main thing you can do to help the turtles is to keep our beaches and oceans clean through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Some fishing companies are changing their nets with Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) that allow turtles to escape the nets when caught accidentally. Protection of nesting sites has been expanded in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica and the United States. National Parks have been created to prevent further commercial development and the illegal actions of poachers. Putting satelite tracking devices on the turtles has helped to find out more about where the turtles go and how many there are in the ocean.

Protected by provincial legislation in Nova Scotia and designated as endangered under New Brunswick’s Endangered Species Act.



References: http://www.vanaqua.org http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov http://animals.nationalgeographic.com

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