Endangered Species Act helped recover marine animal populations
A study led by Abel Valdivia of the Center for Biological Diversity in California has revealed that more than 75 percent of marine mammal and sea turtle populations have showed significant signs of recovery after being protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The study findings suggest that conservation measures such as fishery regulations have been largely successful in promoting species recovery.
As extinction risks and threats across the ocean increase, the number of marine species protected by the ESA is growing. Prior to this study, however, there was very little research conducted to follow up on the recovery trends for marine mammals and sea turtles after they were listed.
To investigate, the research team gathered the annual estimates for populations of all 62 marine mammal species and sea turtle species listed under the ESA. The researchers examined the extent of population change and recovery status for multiple populations of 14 marine mammal species and five sea turtle species.
The results of the study showed that 78 percent of marine mammal populations and 75 percent of sea turtle populations had increased significantly after being listed. On the other hand, nine percent of marine mammal populations had declined after ESA protection.
At the same time, 13 percent of marine mammal populations and 25 percent of sea turtle populations showed no significant changes. Overall, the populations that became more abundant were species that had been listed for at least 20 years, such as large whales, manatees, and sea turtles.
According to the study authors, the results highlight the potential for marine mammals and sea turtles to bounce back from major population declines when effective conservation efforts are deployed in time.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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