US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



Published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1-2, (1998)


Of the six sea turtle species that are found in the U.S. waters or that nest on U.S. beaches, all are designated as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Endangered status means a species is considered in danger of exinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range; threatened means it is likely to become endangered.

Six of the seven sea turtles species are listed as endangered or threatened: green, Kemp's ridley, olive ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles. Only one species, the flatback sea turtle, is not considered threatened with extinction at this time. Overharvest of eggs for food, intentional killing of adults and immature turtles for their shells and skin, and accidental drowning in commercial fishing gear are primarily responsible for the worldwide decline in sea turtle populations. In addition, coastal residential and resort development has degraded nesting habitat, and pollution of oceans threatens foraging habitat.