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 Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Studies: Distribution and Abundance of Wildlife along the Eastern Seaboard 2012-2014. This 32-page summary publication explores aspects of the mid-Atlantic ecosystem; describes our survey and analytical approaches; and presents a range of results, featuring several case studies on specific species or phenomena.
The Executive Summary for the technical report is also available here.
Sea turtles are long-lived animals with worldwide oceanic distribution. The five species that occur in the mid-Atlantic 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, with some migrations up to 10,000 km. Their body temperatures vary considerably with their environment, limiting sea turtles 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 vessel traffic and the effects of noise from seismic profiling, pile driving, and trenching.
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