Capstone Title

The Review of Sea Turtle Management in the U.S.A.

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Curtis Burney

Second Advisor

Richard E. Dodge


Of the world's 12 living turtle families with approximately 250 species, only two families, comprising eight species, are marine. All eight species are endangered or threatened. Seven species are in the family Chelonidae, the hard-shelled turtles. The leatherback is in the family Dermochelyidae.

Five species of sea turtles inhabit the nearshore of the Southeastern United States and the Gulf of Mexico: Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea). They have several common characteristics, including relatively nonretractile extremities, extensively roofed skulls, and limbs converted to paddle-like flappers with one or two claws. They are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-205) because their populations had declined largely as a result of human activity. Today, sea turtles continue to be killed all over the Caribbean for both local consumption and international trade. Kemp's ridely is now most endangered sea turtle, decimated by egg harvesting, especially for the aphrodisiac market in Mexico City, and by accidental drowning in commercial fishing nets (Anne and Rudloe, 1994). The shell from the hawksbill is the principal product traded internationally with almost all of the shells sent from the Caribbean to Japan. In some islands, the shells are also worked locally to make jewelry for the tourist trade. In 1987, an optimistic estimate of the number of hawksbills nesting in the Caribbean was 4,975. In contrast in 1988 alone, Japan imported the shells of almost 12,000 adult hawksbills from the Caribbean (Cruising World, 1990).

This paper reviews the legal aspects, especially the Endangered Species Act, and sea turtle management, including turtle excluder devices, head start, land acquisition program, and nest relocation. It also describes the source of mortality.

This document is currently not available here.

For NSU Patrons Only.