Protecting Marine Wildlife

Green turtle. Photo credit: Mark Sullivan/NOAA.

There are over 15,000 species of marine wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. Our waters are home to 29 species of dolphins, whales, and manatees, five species of sea turtles, and thousands of species of fish, shellfish, and sea birds.

Unfortunately, because of overfishing and industrial impacts, many of the Gulf’s marine creatures are at risk. The sperm whale, West Indian manatee, and all five species of Gulf sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered.

Threats to the Gulf’s wildlife include:

  • Overfishing and entanglements with fishing gear, such as surface longlines and fishing nets;
  • Pollution in the form of untreated sewage, garbage, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and plastics; and
  • Ocean shipping as well as oil and gas exploration which produce harmful noise, oil and chemical spills, the release of non-native species through ballast water, and collisions with mammals.

The BP Oil Disaster of 2010 killed thousands of dolphins, whales, sea turtles and birds. Already at risk, these species and others continue to suffer the ongoing effects of the spill.

Healthy Gulf seeks to protect and restore the Gulf’s marine wildlife by:

  • Reducing pollution flowing into the Gulf;
  • Decreasing noise pollution from oil and gas exploration that harms marine mammals;
  • Strengthening regulation of the oil and gas industry to reduce the potential for future catastrophic oil spills;
  • Reducing the unintended catch of marine creatures (Bluefin tuna, turtles, dolphins, and sharks) in fishing gear; and
  • Ensuring that the Gulf’s at risk species receive the maximum protection of the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management; Baldwin County, Alabama, for Warm, White Sand Beaches and Wildlife

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