Federal wildlife agencies proposed Wednesday increased protections for loggerhead turtles along both U.S. coasts, including in Maryland.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they had determined that the status of seven of nine population groups of the turtles around the world had worsened to the point that they should be considered endangered, including those in the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida. They are now listed as threatened throughout their range, a less severe status.
The announcement was welcomed by conservation groups, which had petitioned the government to do more for the turtles amid evidence that their numbers are declining, particularly in nesting areas. On the Atlantic Coast, the sea turtles tend to lay their eggs on beaches in the Carolinas and southward, but young ones forage in the Chesapeake Bay, where they like to feed on horseshoe crabs, said Jack Cover, curator of the National Aquarium.