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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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Species and Description
(click for a detailed technical account)
(click to view literature citations and larger graph)
(current and historic range)

Atlantic green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas mydas

Exploitation of the green sea turtle, their eggs, and their habitat resulted in population declines. Globally, green sea turtle populations continue to decline, but the number of Florida nests counted has increased from 2,100 in1989-1990 to 9,609 in 2004-2005.

AL(s), CT(s), DE(m), FL(b), GA(b), LA(s), MA(s), MS(s), NY(s), NJ(s), NC(b), PR(b), RI(s), SC(b), TX(s), VI(b), VA(m) ---

Atlantic hawksbill sea turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata imbricata

Globally, the number of hawksbill sea turtles may have declined by as much as 80% over the last century due to commerce in their shells, poaching, habitat loss, bycatch and entanglement in marine debris. Although hawksbill numbers continue to decline globally, at protected beaches on Mona Island, Puerto Rico nests increased from 177 in 1974 to 537 in 1998 and at Buck Island Reef in the US Virgin Islands nests increased from 73 in 1987 to 121 in 1998.

AL(s), CT(o), DE(o), FL(b), GA(o), LA(s), MD(o), MA(o), MS(s), NY(o), NJ(o), NC(o), PR(b), RI(o), SC(o), TX(s), VI(b), VA(o) ---

Kemp's Ridley sea turtle
Lepidochelys kempii

Historically, over 40,000 females nested in a single day on one beach in Mexico but egg collection, real estate and oil development, and commercial fisheries pushed the species to near extinction by the 1970s. With reintroductions from Mexican populations, nesting sites have been reestablished along the Texas coast.

AL(o), CT(s), DE(s), FL(o), GA(s), LA(m), ME(s), MD(s), MA(s), MS(m), NH(s), NY(s), NJ(s), NC(s), PR(o), RI(s), SC(o), TX(b), VI(o), VA(s) ---

Puerto Rican parrot
Amazona vittata

Due to deforestation, Puerto Rican parrot populations declined dramatically in the latter half of the 19th century and by 1975, only a single population numbering 14 birds remained. Since 1975 the wild population of Puerto Rican parrots slowly grew to 36 birds in 2005 and a captive population has grown to 158.

PR(b) ---

Virgin Islands tree boa
Epicrates monensis granti

Large-scale habitat destruction and the introduction of exotic mammalian predators caused severe declines in Virgin Islands tree boa populations. An attempt to reintroduce Virgin Island tree boas onto two islands has been extremely successful with one island now supporting 500 snakes and the other supporting 170.

PR(b), VI(b) ---

Puerto Rican plain pigeon
Columba inornata wetmorei

Unregulated hunting, clearing of forests for agriculture, and hurricane damage to forests caused the once abundant Puerto Rican plain pigeon to decline to near extinction. A study conducted in the Puerto Rican plain pigeon's core habitat found that the number of birds there increased from 100 in 1973-1983 to 3,277 in 1997-2001; the pigeon's overall numbers and range have also increased.

PR(b) ---

Atlantic piping plover
Charadrius melodus (Atlantic DPS)

In the late 19th and early 20th century, hunters and the millinery trade decimated Atlantic piping plover populations while later declines were the result of beach development and stabilization and human disturbance. The U.S. population increased from 550 pairs in 1986 to about 1,423 pairs in 2004, with 659 pairs in New England, 519 in NY-NJ, and 245 in the Southern region.

AL(s), CT(b), DE(b), FL(s), GA(s), LA(s), ME(b), MD(b), MA(b), MS(s), NH(b), NY(b), NJ(b), NC(b), PR(s), RI(b), SC(b), TX(s), VA(b) ---

Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle
Caretta caretta (Atlantic DPS)

Habitat destruction and entanglement in fishing gear threaten the Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle. The number of nests in Florida, which supports 95% of the loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the U.S., has increased substantially since listing.

AL(b), CT(s), DE(b), FL(b), GA(b), LA(b), ME(s), MD(b), MA(s), MS(b), NH(s), NY(s), NJ(b), NC(b), PR(b), RI(s), SC(b), TX(b), VI(b), VA(b) ---

Blue whale
Balaenoptera musculus

The blue whale was reduced by as much as 99% due to whaling that occurred until the mid-1960's. The number of whales reported off the coast of California increased from 704 in 1980 to an estimated 1,744 today.

AK(s), CA(s), FL(o), HI(s), ME(o), MD(o), MA(o), NI(o), NH(o), NY(o), NC(o), OR(o), PR(o), RI(o), SC(o), VI(o), WA(o) ---

Humpback whale
Megaptera novaeangliae

Humpback whale populations were greatly depleted by commercial whaling by the early 1900's. In 1966, the entire North Pacific humpback population was thought to number only around 1,200 animals; this estimate increased to between 6,000 and 8,000 by 1992.

AL(o), AK(s), CA(s), CT(s), DE(s), FL(s), GA(s), HI(s), LA(o), ME(s), MD(s), MA(s), MS(o), NI(s), NH(s), NY(s), NJ(s), NC(s), OR(s), PR(o), RI(s), SC(s), TX(o), VI(s), VA(s), WA(s) ---

Atlantic leatherback sea turtle
Dermochelys coriacea (Atlantic population)

Habitat destruction, incidental catch in commercial fisheries, and the harvest of eggs and flesh are the greatest threats to the survival of the leatherback sea turtle. Although globally, the number of leatherback sea turtle is decreasing, nest numbers in Florida as well as on St. Croix, USVI, and Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, increased over the past 20 years.

CT(s), DE(s), FL(b), GA(b), ME(s), MD(s), MA(s), NH(s), NY(s), NJ(s), NC(b), PR(b), RI(s), SC(b), VI(b), VA(s) ---

(b) currently breeds, (s) seasonally present, (m) migration route, (o) occasionally present, (x) extirpated

Photo © Phillip Colla