5 of the 6 species of sea turtles found along the Atlantic coast are endangered or threatened, and therefore protected under the Endangered Species Act. The 6th species is currently being evaluated for receiving ESA protections as a threatened species.
What to watch for:
Sea turtles range in size from 2-5.5 feet depending on the species. All but one species has a thick top shell, known as a carapace, which often contains identifying features (see table below). Sea turtles are migratory species, often making their way onto sandy beaches along the Caribbean, Mexico, and southeast US states for nesting.
The table below provides a general comparison among the 6 species found in the western North Atlantic.
All images (c) NOAA
- Pictured (left to right): Top: Green, Kemp’s Ridley, Loggerhead; Bottom: Hawksbill, Leatherback, Olive Ridley