Give sea turtles a present this holiday season – pass legislation for rescue funding

Give sea turtles a present this holiday season – pass legislation for rescue funding

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Madeleine Serkissian started this petition to Representative Nancy Pelosi and

Senate Leaders Schumer and McConnell,

House Leaders Pelosi and McCarthy,

Every year thousands of sea turtles 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 healing 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 the Prescott 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 financial help from the federal government.

Environmental stressors like climate change, ocean cold snaps, plastic pollution, red tides (harmful algal blooms), boat strikes and more are on the increase; more sea turtles are in trouble and need care. At least 2,000 turtles required rescue on the east coast alone this year. In 2021, over 12,000 turtles were stranded on Texas beaches from a cold snap but only 4,000 were ultimately rescued and returned to the ocean.

That is why we are asking you, even at this late date in the year, to make the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act (S.4432 and H.R. 7918) a priority for passage and money included in this year’s appropriations for NOAA. The amount of money is small, up to $5 million each year for the next several years, but the impact on sea turtle populations –every species in US waters is either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act—would be great.

Please act with urgency. 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.

 

Sincerely,

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