Throughout the Gulf of Mexico region, plants, animals, birds, fish and mammals are at risk. Over four hundred plant and animal species found in Gulf states are considered either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (134 in Alabama, 112 in Florida, 31 in Louisiana, 42 in Mississippi, and 94 in Texas). These include the Kemps Ridley and green sea turtles, the brown pelican, the Louisiana black bear, sperm whales and the Florida panther. Sadly, the loss of coastal marshes and swamps, over-fishing, and coastal and industrial development threaten the continued health, and even survival, of these species.
The Gulfâ€™s At Risk Marine and Coastal Species
Marine and Coastal Fish, Wildlife, and Plants in the Gulf listed as either threatened or endangered under the ESA include:
Birds: Artic peregrine falcon, bald eagle, Eskimo curlew, Mississippi Sandhill crane, Piping Plover, and whooping crane;
Land-based mammals: Alabama beach mouse, Florida panther, Florida Salt Marsh vole, Louisiana black bear, Perdido Key beach mouse, and the Puma.
Marine Mammals: Blue whale, Fin whale, Humpback whale, Minke whale, Sei whale, Sperm whale, and Right whale.
Serenia: West Indian Manatee
Sea Turtles: Green turtle, Hawksbill turtle, Kempâ€™s Ridley turtle, Leatherback turtle, and Loggerhead turtle.
Plants: Pondberry, Gulf coast lupine, snowy orchid, hooded pitcher plant, and Godfreyâ€™s (violet) butterwort.
For a full listing of threatened and endangered species in the United States go to: http://endangered.fws.gov/wildlife.html
(Note: Although not listed under the ESA, marine mammals, such as dolphins, in the Gulf of Mexico are protected under a separate act: the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The full text of the MMPA can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws
What We Are Doing
The GRN works to ensure that at-risk species are protected by supporting a balance between the needs of at-risk species and the drive for coastal and marine development by:
- Protecting important coastal marshes, swamps, and other wetland habitat;
- Preserving Louisianaâ€™s coastal wetland forests;
- Reducing threats to marine mammals, such as dolphins, manatees, and sperm whales, that call the Gulf home;
- Promoting fisheries management practices that: protects at risk fish species; uses sound science; and limits the unintended take of species.
Endangered Species Act
Enacted in 1973, the Endangered Species Act , 16 U.S.C. Sections 1531-1544, (or the ESA as it is commonly known) is one of the most popular, and most effective, environmental laws on the books. The ESA works, with citizen involvement, to preserve not only large and charismatic speciesâ€”the Florida panthers and bald eaglesâ€” but those that are small, equally unique, and beautiful, such as Eskimo curlews and Alabama beach mice.
The visionary intention of the Endangered Species Act is that all these species will not merely survive in zoos, but thrive in the wild environments where they evolved over millions of years.
The ESA has three key elements:
(a) listing of species as threatened or endangered;
(b) designation of habitat essential for the survival and the development of listed species;
(c) creation of blueprints (recovery plans) to guide action to bring listed species back to healthy population levels so that they can be removed from the lists.
Endangered species: A species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Threatened species: A species that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
The ESA is jointly administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (land-based species and manatees) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (marine species).
To see the full text of the ESA visit http://www.endangered.fws.gov/esa.html
We work to protect cypress forests, which are important habitat for threatened and endangered species like the Lousiana black bear. The cypress mulch industry is one of the leading threats to the Gulf's cypress swamps. Read more . . .
BP's on-going oil drilling disaster continues to impact threatened and endangered species and other species covered by the Marine Mammals Protection Act. A GRN Memo, Effect of the BP Oil Disaster on Marine Mammals, summarizes many of the current impacts. Read more on our response to the BP disaster . . .
Earthjustice and Endangered Species Coalition. Citizen's Guide to the Endangered Species Act, http://www.earthjustice.org/library/references/Citizens_Guide_ESA
The Congressional Research Service, The Endangered Species Act and "Sound Science", http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32992.pdf
The National Academy of Sciences. Report on Science and the Endangered Species Act (1995), http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books.esa
The Society of Conservation Biology, http://www.conbio.org, includes links to the Journal of Conservation Biology.
NatureServe, http://www.natureserve.org, an Online Encyclopedia of Life)
The National Library for the Environment, http://www.cnie.org, provides links to documents, including a decade of Congressional Research Service reports on ESA issues)
The Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program, www.endangered.fws.gov
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Protected Species, www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/
Audubon of Florida, www.audubonofflorida.org
Carribean Conservation Corporation & Sea Turtle Survival League, www.cccturtle.org
Center for Biological Diversity, www.biologicaldiversity.org
Endangered Species Coalition, www.stopextinction.org
Environmental Defense Fund, Texas Regional Office, www.environmentaldefense.org
National Wildlife Federation, Gulf States Natural Resources Center, www.nwf.org