June 14, 2012
In the waters off the coast of California, leatherback sea turtles are one step closer to becoming one of the official state symbols.
On Wednesday, June 13, California Senators voted unanimously in a policy committee to support the bill designating the Western Pacific leatherback sea turtle as the official California marine reptile. The bill (AB1776), sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), had bipartisan support from all 13 state senators on the Government Organization Committee.
Along with making sea turtles an official state symbol, the bill would declare Oct. 15 Leatherback Conservation Day. The recognition would help bring awareness to the endangered species. It would also exemplify California's dedication to preserving biodiversity.
If the bill is passed by the full Senate next week, this will be a huge achievement for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, a sea turtle conservation group, and Oceana, an advocacy group dedicated to protecting marine ecosystems. These organizations sponsored the bill worked to garner statewide support for the bill.
“The senators’ swift bipartisan support for this legislation shows the timeliness and importance of recognizing this ocean ambassador species,” says Geoff Shester, Oceana California Program Director. "We hope to see the full Senate and Governor take similar action to make this recognition official.”
Photo credited to NOAA