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Sierra Club seeks safety for endangered leatherback turtles

The Sierra Club petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect the habitat of leatherback sea turtles, the world’s largest turtle, in Puerto Rico. The sandy beaches on this Caribbean island are part of the Northeast Ecological Corridor, home to 40 endemic and threatened species, and considered one of the most important leatherback nesting grounds in the United States. Puerto Rico Gov. Luis G. Fortuno removed the area’s designation as a nature reserve in October last year, rendering the area vulnerable to hotels, golf courses and other coastal construction.
“If we do not protect turtle nesting beaches throughout the Caribbean we will lose them,” said Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera, environmental scientist and planner of the Initiative of Sustainable Development, in a Sierra Club press release.
The Northeast Ecological Corridor, an area encompassing 3,200 acres of forests, wetlands, beaches, coral communities and a bioluminescent lagoon on Puerto Rico’s eastern shoreline, is one of the last American leatherback turtle nesting sites with a significant population. The Sierra Club attributes rising sea levels, shifting currents and ocean acidification to the impediment of turtle survival around the world. The warming temperatures of climate change may also lead to imbalances within leatherback populations, as the temperature of the nest determines the gender of turtle hatchlings. For more information on the Sierra Club and the Coalition for the Northeast Ecological Corridor, visit www.sierraclub.org/corridor.
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