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Despite Trump’s opposition, America’s Endangered Species Act is saving the turtles

Turns out that ABBA, roller skates, and the invention of the mobile phone weren’t the only great things to come out of the 70s.

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in the United States, and new research suggests that it has been hugely instrumental in promoting species recovery and even moving some species off the endangered list.

According to a recent study published by Abel Valdivia and colleagues from the Centre for Biological Diversity in Oakland, USA, more than three-quarters of marine mammal and sea turtle populations have increased significantly thanks to the ESA.

But finding this information wasn’t all smooth sailing. When Valdivia and his team began investigating marine life post-ESA, they discovered there was a serious lack of analyses regarding marine mammal recovery trends.

The biological diversity research team went to work gathering population estimates for all 62 marine mammal and sea turtle species listed under the ESA. They analysed population trends, the magnitude of population change, and recovery stats.

The findings have been highly rewarding, and serve as a reminder of the good that can still be done to help Mother Earth survive and thrive amidst the environmental horrors of our day.

The studies show that 78 per cent of marine mammal populations and 75 per cent of sea turtle populations significantly increased after the ESA was listed. On the flip side, only 9 per cent of marine mammal populations have decreased since that time and a whopping zero sea turtle populations have experienced population decline.

We’ll raise a glass to that!

These studies have arrived in a timely manner, given the recent conversations taking place in the US Congress suggesting changes to the Act. These changes proposed by the Trump administration risk weakening the act’s ability to protect endangered wildlife.

Speaking with the New York Times, Brett Hartl, director of government affairs at the Centre for Biological Diversity, said that “these proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife.”

In a media release published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, Valdivia and his team address the continuing importance of the ESA:

“The results underscore the capacity of marine mammals and sea turtles to recover from substantial population declines when conservation actions are implemented in a timely and effective manner.”

This law has well and truly proved its worth, and not only by assisting the recovery of marine life. It was also the ESA’s influence that helped to bring the bald eagle and Yellowstone grizzly bear and many other animals back from the edge of extinction.

[Feature image courtesy of Kris Mikael Krister]

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