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Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act

We're championing bipartisan legislation that would create critical funding that supports sea turtle conservation.

What is the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act?

Although sea turtles are federally protected, and despite the high costs associated with sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation, there's inadequate direct federal support allotted to the dozens of organizations that rescue and rehabilitate endangered 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 Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act.

Thanks to the leadership of U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, three dozen 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, introduced by U.S. Representative William Keating and U.S. Senator Ed Markey, builds on this momentum by creating a permanent grant program to support organizations responding to and caring for threatened and endangered sea turtles. Ultimately, this new program will allow for more stable and sustainable funding that will ensure more sea turtles recover and return to their ocean home.

Support Sea Turtle Conservation

Sign the pledge to urge Congress to pass the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act and support stronger federal funding for sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation.

The need for organizations that rescue and rehabilitate federally protected, endangered sea turtles continue to grow—but little to no direct federal support currently exists for this crucial conservation work.

The National Aquarium, New England Aquarium and South Carolina Aquarium are leading a national effort of organizations across the country that are working together to encourage Congress to pass the 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.

Importance of the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act

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.

Rescue to Release Series

Series Rescue to Release

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.

View Full Series

Latest in this series:

Rescue to Release, Part 4

Rescue to Release, Part 3

Rescue to Release, Part 2

Goals of the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act

The Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act would establish a federal grant program that would provide critical funding to support organizations like the National Aquarium that respond to and rehabilitate federally protected, endangered sea turtles. Specifically, organizations would apply for grants for:

  • The recovery, care or treatment of stranded sea turtles.
  • The collection of data from stranded sea turtles for scientific research and better understanding of turtle health.
  • Facility operation costs directly related to caring for stranded sea turtles.

Resource Hub

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 representative and senators urging 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.

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.

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