Protecting Marine Wildlife

Green turtle
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 twenty-nine 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, plastics;
  • Ocean shipping that produces harmful noise, oil and chemical spills, the release of non-native species through ballast water, and collisions with mammals; and
  • Oil and Gas exploration, drilling and transportation that destroys important habitat and produces harmful noise, oil spills, and toxic pollution.

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,

The GRN 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.