Five species of sea turtles occur in the Mid-Atlantic United States, all of which are listed as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. They were a focus of this study, in part, because few turtles occur in European waters (where most offshore wind energy development has occurred to date), and the effects of this type of development on sea turtles remain poorly understood.
Download Wildlife Studies Offshore of Maryland. This 8-page summary publication represents an overview of results from the final technical report for the Maryland-focused study, and features survey results and case studies on marine mammals, sea turtles, and wintering seabirds. The Executive Summary for the technical report is also available here.
Additional results and case studies can be found in the 32-page synthesis report for the mid-Atlantic regional study, Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Studies: Distribution and Abundance of Wildlife along the Eastern Seaboard, 2012-2014.
Turtles are long-lived animals with worldwide oceanic distribution. The five species that occur in our study area are the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and Green Sea Turtle. All are listed as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Adults migrate seasonally, and sea turtles' body temperatures vary considerably with their environment, limiting them to waters in specific temperature ranges.
The mid-Atlantic region has large populations of a high diversity of turtles, but there are many existing threats that could cause population declines. These include mortality from bycatch in fishing nets, collisions with vessels, especially those traveling at high speeds, loss of nesting habitat to coastal development, and disturbance or destruction of nests by humans or other animals. Potential concerns from offshore wind energy development include the effects of noise from seismic profiling, pile driving, and trenching.
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