Study Finds Federal Protection Has Increased Populations of Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles

The research showed substantial population recovery for 78 percent of marine life protected by the Endangered Species Act.

A humpback whale breaching. Photo: Yutaka Seki/Flickr

A recent study found that the Endangered Species Act has had a profound impact in growing populations of most marine mammals and sea turtles.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity’s fact sheet on the study:

“A new study found that 78 percent of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles analyzed significantly increased in abundance after receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act. The research showed substantial population recovery for 18 of 23 marine mammals and 7 of 9 sea turtles in U.S. waters that are protected under the Act, with sufficient long-term, high-quality data.”

The Endangered Species Act went into legislation in 1978, and has clearly become important for copious amounts of marine life. It has helped end species trade and exploitation, create science-based recovery plans, placed regulations on harmful activities and protected foraging and breeding grounds, among other things.

Some of the species that showed significant population increases include most large whales, Florida manatees, California sea otters, eastern Steller sea lions, green sea turtles and others.

One of those species is the humpback whale. Again, from the Center for Biological Diversity, “Hawaiian humpback whales are doing so well that they were removed from the list of endangered species in 2016. The size of the humpback population in Hawaiian waters increased from 800 individuals in 1979 to more than 10,000 individuals in 2005.”

The chart showing the Hawaiian humpback whale population growth. Courtesy of Center For Biological Diversity

Read the full study here.

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