July 1, 2008
Loggerhead Sea Turtles Given Official Florida Status
Here's a new trivia question: What is Florida's official saltwater reptile?
As of today it's the loggerhead sea turtle, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced Monday. The big turtle joins the list of 21 other state symbols, including the official reptile, the alligator, and the official marine mammal, the manatee.
"A lot of times students will research state symbols," commission spokeswoman Bonnie Abellera said. "This gives them an additional opportunity to research things that they haven't before."
As part of a class project during the past school year, some Tallahassee middle school students and their teacher approached state officials on behalf of the loggerhead.
Months later, Gov. Charlie Crist signed off on the sea turtle as a part of other legislation, Abellera said.
Conservationists hope the move will step up efforts to protect the threatened species.
"It will sure increase awareness of the need for as many conservation efforts as possible for loggerheads," said Lou Fisher, marine biologist for Broward County.
Last year, Broward County's loggerhead nests were down 40 percent from 2,674 in 2000, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
In the same time frame, Palm Beach County reported a 25 percent decline.