Federal officials have removed green sea turtles from the list of endangered species. Now under the list of threatened species, which means these turtles are not facing an impending risk of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said.

About 2,250 nesting females were counted on Florida beaches every year, which has increased dramatically since 1978. This move, however, won't change much in terms of Florida's regulations in protecting these animals.

The change includes reclassifying turtles originating from two breeding populations in Florida and the Pacific Coast of Mexico, as the USFWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries plans to divide the green sea turtles across the globe into 11 distinct population segments. This reclassification is seen as a way to push individualized conservation approaches for each population.

The three populations worldwide that are considered endangered, which means they are at the highest risk of disappearing from Earth, are those that live in the Central South Pacific, Central West Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Being able to determine population segments among green sea turtles provided flexibility for managers to address specific problems experienced by individual populations. This method has helped agencies protect and conserve the population of these turtles more effectively.

The agencies reviewed the global status of green sea turtles to determine the new classification through tracking methods and genetic studies. The joint efforts in the conservation have resulted in the increase of the species' population, and the agencies involved hope the green sea turtles won't be listed as endangered species again.

The conservation efforts include protection of beaches where turtles are nesting, reduction of bycatch fisheries and prohibiting direct harvest of these turtles.

Under threatened species, the turtles are still under protection of the Endangered Species Act, so the number will continue to increase until the species have recovered.

Even though threats remain for the welfare of green sea turtles, reclassification of these animals in Florida and Mexico shows that partnerships among groups, federal agencies and states make a big difference for animals across the globe.

Photo: Alaina McDavid | Flickr

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