California OKs new protections for leatherback sea turtles

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has added the Pacific leatherback sea turtle to its endangered species list.

California Sea Turtle Endangered

FILE – In this July 30, 1999 file photo, Michael Coffman of The Marine Mammal Center, inspects a endangered leatherback sea turtle which washed ashore on Pismo Beach, Calif. The giant leatherback sea turtle was found dead floating in a kelp bed. The California Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, to add the leather back sea turtle to the state’s Endangered Species Act. (AP Photo/Phil Klein, File)

The California Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday to add the turtles under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

Leatherback sea turtles 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 subpopulation of leatherback sea turtles hatch in Indonesia and swim 6,000 miles to eat jellyfish off the California coast.

Scientists say these sea turtles have declined in California by about 5.6% per year for the past three decades.

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