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Leatherback sea turtles granted massive protected area along U.S. west coast

January 24, 2012

The U.S. federal government has designated 108,556 square kilometers (41,914 square miles) as critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the largest of the world's marine turtles and one of the most endangered.

The new habitat means the government will consider possible regulations on any activities that could harm leatherbacks or their prey, jellyfish. Such regulations could target agricultural waste, pollution, nuclear power or tidal wave plants, offshore drilling, and aquaculture. Any new regulations would likely benefit more marine species beyond leatherbacks and jellyfish as well.

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Leatherback sea turtle camouflaging nest in Suriname. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

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