Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act
We're championing bipartisan legislation that would create critical funding that supports sea turtle conservation.
Although sea turtles are federally protected by the Endangered Species Act, and despite the high costs associated with sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation, there's inadequate direct federal support available to the many aquariums, zoos and other facilities that rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles. The National Aquarium, New England Aquarium and South Carolina Aquarium—all members of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership—are leading the charge to change that, catalyzing a national effort by dozens of organizations across the country that are working together to encourage Congress to pass the bipartisan Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act. The House Committee on Natural Resources unanimously passed the bill in October 2023 and support for the legislation continues to grow.
Many members of Congress have already endorsed calls for funding sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation in the federal budget. The Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act (H.R. 2560 / S. 2086) builds on this momentum by creating a permanent grant program to support organizations responding to and caring for threatened and endangered sea turtles. Passage of this legislation that is supported by dozens of organizations from around the country will allow for more stable and sustainable funding that will ensure more sea turtles recover and return to their ocean home.
Contact your representatives and senators to urge them to pass the bipartisan Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act, which would provide federal funding for organizations that rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles.
Join the national effort of organizations across the country that are working together to encourage Congress to pass the bipartisan Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act.
If you are authorized, have your organization sign the statement of support and join dozens of others across the country that are calling for direct federal support for sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation.
Threatened and endangered sea turtles face a variety of threats caused by human activities—from entanglements in fishing gear and other plastic debris to boat strikes—and cold-stun events, which are increasing because of climate change in some regions. These threats are just some of the reasons why sea turtles can strand on coastlines, which is where the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network comes in. This network is composed of more than 50 organizations around the country that are permitted to respond to and/or rehabilitate sea turtles, collaborating with each other and with government agency partners to save sea turtles and educate the public about conservation of these vulnerable marine animals.
Although maintaining this network is part of every sea turtle species recovery plan, there is inadequate funding available to support this important work. Just eight of these network partners cared for more than a total of 2,000 sea turtles over a recent two-year period, spending $5 million each of those years to care for rescued sea turtles.
Stranding response and rehabilitation may only be one component of sea turtle conservation, but sustainable funding to support stranding response and rehabilitation is more important than ever in the face of a changing climate that puts sea turtles further at risk.
Experience the journey of a cold-stunned sea turtle—from their rescue on the beaches of Cape Cod to rehabilitation at the National Aquarium to their eventual release to their ocean home.
The Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act fills a gap in federal support for protected species by establishing a federal grant program to provide critical funding directly to organizations that respond to and rehabilitate federally protected, endangered sea turtles. The proposed Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Grant Program is modeled on an existing grant program for marine mammal stranding response (Prescott Grant Program). Eligible organizations can seek support for marine mammal stranding response and rehabilitation, however a sea turtle rescue grant program does not currently exist. This bill would create one. Specifically, organizations would apply for grants to support:
House of Representatives Bill Tracker: Follow along with the progress of the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act as it moves through the legislative process in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill Tracker: Follow along with the progress of the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act as it moves through the legislative process in the Senate.
Contact Congress: Send a message to your representatives encouraging them to cosponsor the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act.
Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN): Members of the STSSN respond to stranded sea turtles, collect data, transport sick and injured sea turtles to rehabilitation facilities and help educate the public about sea turtle conservation.
What is Cold Stunning: In-depth information about cold stunning and how it impacts sea turtles.
Traveling Turtles: Rescue and Rehabilitation of Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles: Learn all about cold stunning and how it affects sea turtles.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums SAFE Species: Sea Turtles: Sea turtles are part of the Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which utilizes the expertise of AZA member institutions to save at-risk species.
Learn more about the sea turtles in our care—from rescued Kemp's ridleys to a green sea turtle with buoyancy issues.