Sea Turtles? They Too Can Indeed Be An Alaskan Thing

A fishing crew in Alaska rescued this green sea turtle from getting caught in a net just south of Prince of Wales Island on Aug 5, 2020. Photo credit: Ben Dolph via NOAA

Great story from NOAA Fisheries Alaska about sea turtles, which believe it or not, can be found in Alaska waters.

Here’s more from NOAA’s report:

Most people associate sea turtles with warm, tropical destinations. You might be surprised to learn that some sea turtle species can also be found in the frigid ocean waters off Alaska. 

Seven sea turtle species inhabit our oceans. The six found in the United States are protected as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Significant threats to global sea turtle populations include:

  • Commercial and recreational fisheries bycatch
  • Entanglement in and ingestion of marine debris
  • Vessel strikes
  • Harvesting of animals and eggs for consumption
  • Loss and degradation of nesting and foraging habitats due to climate change, pollution, and coastal development
Alaska sea turtle sightings in the past 60 years or so. (NOAA)

In Alaska, four species have been reported to NOAA Fisheries over the last six decades:

In 1963, Dr. Ed Wing began collecting reports of sea turtle sightings for NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. The NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office has continued these efforts, We maintain a record of free-swimming, dead, or entangled sea turtles across the coastal areas of the Gulf of Alaska.  

Forty-eight sea turtle sightings were recorded in Alaska between 1963 and 2020. Occasionally rumors surface of unreported sightings or human interaction. A great way to protect sea turtles is to share knowledge. Anyone can report a sea turtle sighting. Knowing more about the sea turtles that visit Alaska waters can increase the accuracy of reported sightings.