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Giant Leatherback Sea Turtle Named Marine Reptile of California

Sightings of the 1,000-pound turtles have been on the rise in Monterey Bay.

While the California Grizzly Bear now only exists on the state flag, the fate of the beloved Pacific Leatherback sea turtle will hopefully be different. 

Last Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to make the endagered sea turtle an official state symbol. According to the bill, Oct. 15 of 2013 will be the first Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day—schools will be encouraged to teach their students about the reptile, which passes along the California Coast every summer to feed.

The Leatherback bill was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong of Mountain View, with the purpose of demonstrating California's commitment to a "coordinated worldwide conservation effort." 

The Pacific Leatherback turtles make an incredibly long journey across the oceans each year, coming all the way from breeding grounds in Indonesia to feed on sea nettle jellies off the coast of California. 

In July, . The sighting occurred during a smattering of sightings, from Moss Landing to Half Moon Bay and San Francisco. 

Recently published research suggests that sea turtles may be able to smell the presence of ocean upwelling, which provides nutrients and the jellyfish blooms the turtles love to feed on. 

This might also explain why they have come to find sanctuary in the rich upwelling waters of the Monterey Bay.

Hopefully, the absence of plastic bags (easily confused for jellies and consumed by the turtles) in the Bay will keep them healthy and happy!

What do you think of our state's new marine reptile? Should we start printing new flags? Tell us in the comments!

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