Byline: Associated Press
SACRAMENTO (AP) — Californians, meet your new state marine reptile: It has white spots, eats its weight in jellyfish and treks across the ocean each year.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sept. 26 that he has signed legislation granting the official status to the Pacific leatherback sea turtle.
Environmentalists hope the honor will help the world’s largest sea turtle avoid the fate of the official state animal: the now-extinct California grizzly bear.
Leatherbacks range from waters off San Diego to Washington State and can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh as much as three grand pianos.
Their population, estimated at roughly 2,000 nesting females, has fallen by 90 percent in recent decades.
AB 1776, by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong of Mountain View, also designates each Oct. 15 as Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day.