Critical habitat designated for loggerhead turtles

MIAMI (AP) - Federal authorities have announced critical habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle in Florida and five other Southeastern states.

The habitat designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service includes coastal areas and nesting beaches from North Carolina through Mississippi.

In a statement Wednesday, wildlife service director Dan Ashe said protecting loggerhead habitat helps preserve the health of coastal communities along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

The designation of critical habitat is required under the Endangered Species Act but does not create wildlife preserves or refuges or affect land ownership.

The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in the Southeast. Officials say the long-lived species is vulnerable to collisions with boats, fishing nets and alterations to beaches.

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