US Loggerhead Numbers Drop

Commercial fishing causes decline in sea turtle numbers
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Sep 23, 2007 6:11 PM CDT
An adult female loggerhead turtle is carried by Volusia County Marines Science Center employees to be released Monday, July 23, 2007, back into the Atlantic Ocean just north of Ponce Inlet, Fla. The...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The US loggerhead turtle population is waning, and a federal report concludes that commercial fishing is probably to blame, the AP reports. The threatened species gained numbers through the '90s, but now the sea turtle is on the brink of becoming officially endangered. Ocean health advocates are calling for federal funding to research the relationship between the turtles and fishing fleets further.

While scientists routinely study the turtles when they come ashore on Florida beaches to reproduce and nest, little is known of the animal's migratory patterns. But researchers think the population is declining because nestings, the key population indicator, are currently dropping between 2% and 7% each year. One environmental group is now calling for the creation of protected ocean habitats.