Federal ocean managers say it might be time to move the East Coast population of the world's largest turtle from the U.S.'s list of endangered animals.
An arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has received a petition from a fishing group asking that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean's leatherback sea turtles be listed as "threatened," but not endangered, under the Endangered Species Act.
NOAA says it has reviewed the petition and found "substantial scientific and commercial information" that the move might be warranted. The agency now has about eight months to make a decision.
Leatherbacks live all over the world's oceans and have been listed as endangered by the U.S. since 1970. They can weigh 2,000 pounds.
NOAA's collecting information and comments on the subject until Feb. 5.