Caretta caretta, like all sea turtle species, is in decline. The greatest causes of decline world-wide is probably incidental capture in fishing gear such as long lines, gill nets, shrimp trawls, and direct exploitation of adult turtles and eggs for human food. Though in sharp decline in many parts of its range, and locally along North American coasts, loggerhead sea turtles are currently the most common and least-threatened marine turtle in North American waters. They are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Other important causes of decline include beachfront development, human disturbance of nesting females, pesticides, petroleum products (oil spills), and other ocean pollutants, human-influenced increases in nest predators such as raccoons, collisions with watercraft, and offshore and channel dredging. Artificial lighting near beaches can confuse emerging hatchlings, causing them to move away from the ocean and into hazardous urban areas. If predictions about global warming are realized, increased storms and rising sea levels could damage or destroy nesting areas and nests, and temperature changes could skew sex ratios.
The United States has taken several measures to reduce bycatch of loggerhead sea turtles. Turtle exclusion devices (TEDs) are required in commercial fishing and shrimping nets. There have been other gear modifications, changes in practice, and area closures in fishing that have reduced bycatch. Also, other countries may harvest shrimp in a way that puts loggerhead sea turtles in danger and the U.S. has put an embargo on these shrimp. Despite these measures being taken, the numbers of loggerhead sea turtles in U.S. waters is still declining.
US Federal List: threatened
CITES: appendix i
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
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