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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of February 25, 2020

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 226 → §226.223


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 226—DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITAT


§226.223   Critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Distinct Population Segment of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).

Critical habitat is designated for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Distinct Population Segment of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) as described in this section. The textual descriptions of critical habitat in this section are the definitive source for determining the critical habitat boundaries. For nearshore reproductive areas, the areas extend directly from the mean high water (MHW) line datum at each end of the area seaward 1.6 km. Where beaches are within 1.6 km of each other, nearshore areas are connected, either along the shoreline (MHW line) or by delineating on GIS a straight line from the end of one beach to the beginning of another (either from island to island, or across an inlet or the mouth of an estuary). Although generally following these rules, the exact delineation of each area was determined individually because each was unique. The overview maps are provided for general guidance only and not as a definitive source for determining critical habitat boundaries.

(a) Critical habitat boundaries. Critical habitat is designated to include the following areas:

(1) LOGG-N-1—North Carolina Constricted Migratory Corridor and Northern Portion of the North Carolina Winter Concentration Area. This unit contains constricted migratory and winter habitat. The unit includes the North Carolina constricted migratory corridor and the overlapping northern half of the North Carolina winter concentration area. The constricted migratory corridor off North Carolina consists of waters between 36° N. lat. and Cape Lookout (approximately 34.58° N. lat.) from the edge of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, barrier islands to the 200 m (656 ft) depth contour (continental shelf). The constricted migratory corridor overlaps with the northern portion of winter concentration area off North Carolina. The western and eastern boundaries of winter habitat are the 20 m and 100 m (65.6 and 328 ft) depth contours, respectively. The northern boundary of winter habitat starts at Cape Hatteras (35°16 N lat.) in a straight latitudinal line between 20 and 100 m (65.6-328 ft) depth contours and ends at Cape Lookout (approximately 34.58° N. lat.).

(2) LOGG-N-2—Southern Portion of the North Carolina Winter Concentration Area. This unit contains winter habitat only. The boundaries include waters between the 20 and 100 m (65.6 and 328 ft) depth contours between Cape Lookout to Cape Fear. The eastern and western boundaries of winter habitat are the 20 m and 100 m (65.6 and 328 ft) depth contours, respectively. The northern boundary is Cape Lookout (approximately 34.58° N). The southern boundary is a 37.5 km (23.25 mile) line that extends from the 20 m (65.6 ft) depth contour at approximately 33.47° N, 77.58° W (off Cape Fear) to the 100 m (328 ft) depth contour at approximately 33.2° N, 77.32° W.

(3) LOGG-N-3—Bogue Banks and Bear Island, Carteret and Onslow Counties, North Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from Beaufort Inlet to Bear Inlet (crossing Bogue Inlet) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(4) LOGG-N-4—Topsail Island and Lea-Huttaf Island, Onslow and Pender Counties, North Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from New River Inlet to Rich Inlet (crossing New Topsail Inlet) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(5) LOGG-N-5—Pleasure Island, Bald Head Island, Oak Island, and Holden Beach, New Hanover and Brunswick Counties, North Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from Carolina Beach Inlet around Cape Fear to Shallotte Inlet (crossing the mouths of the Cape Fear River and Lockwoods Folly Inlet), from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(6) LOGG-N-6—North, Sand, South and Cedar Islands, Georgetown County, South Carolina; Murphy, Cape, Lighthouse Islands and Racoon Key, Charleston County, South Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from North Inlet to Five Fathom Creek Inlet (crossing Winyah Bay, North Santee Inlet, South Santee Inlet, Cape Romain Inlet, and Key Inlet) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(7) LOGG-N-7—Folly, Kiawah, Seabrook, Botany Bay Islands, Botany Bay Plantation, Interlude Beach, and Edingsville Beach, Charleston County, South Carolina; Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Beach, and Pine and Otter Islands, Colleton County, South Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from Lighthouse Inlet to Saint Helena Sound (crossing Folly River, Stono, Captain Sam's, North Edisto, Frampton, Jeremy, South Edisto and Fish Creek Inlets) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(8) LOGG-N-8—Harbor Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from Harbor Inlet to Johnson Inlet from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(9) LOGG-N-9—Little Capers, St. Phillips, and Bay Point Islands, Beaufort County, South Carolina. This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit consists of nearshore area from Pritchards Inlet to Port Royal Sound (crossing Trenchards Inlet and Morse Island Creek Inlet East) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(10) LOGG-N-10—Little Tybee Island, Chatham County, Georgia: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are from Tybee Creek Inlet to Wassaw Sound from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(11) LOGG-N-11—Wassaw Island, Chatham County, Georgia: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are from Wassaw Sound to Ossabaw Sound from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(12) LOGG-N-12Ossabaw Island, Chatham County, Georgia; St. Catherines Island, Liberty County, Georgia; Blackbeard and Sapelo Islands, McIntosh County, Georgia: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are nearshore areas from the Ogeechee River to Deboy Sound (crossing St. Catherines Sound, McQueen Inlet, Sapelo Sound, and Cabretta Inlet), extending from the MHW line and seaward 1.6 km.

(13) LOGG-N-13—Little Cumberland Island and Cumberland Island, Camden County, Georgia: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are nearshore areas from St. Andrew Sound to the St. Marys River (crossing Christmas Creek) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(14) LOGG-N-14—Southern Boundary of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to Mantanzas Inlet, Duval and St. Johns Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from the south boundary of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to Matanzas Inlet (crossing St. Augustine Inlet) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(15) LOGG-N-15—Northern Boundary of River to Sea Preserve at Marineland to Granada Blvd., Flagler and Volusia Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from the north boundary of River to Sea Preserve at Marineland to Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(16) LOGG-N-16—Canaveral National Seashore to 28.70° N, 80.66° W near Titusville, Volusia and Brevard Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. Boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from the north boundary of Canaveral National Seashore to 28.70° N, 80.66° W near Titusville (at the start of the Titusville—Floridana Beach concentrated breeding area) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(17) LOGG-N-17—Titusville to Floridana Beach Concentrated Breeding Area, Northern Portion of the Florida Constricted Migratory Corridor, Nearshore Reproductive Habitat from 28.70° N, 80.66° W near Titusville to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station; and Nearshore Reproductive Habitat from Patrick Airforce Base and Central Brevard Beaches, Brevard County, Florida: This unit includes overlapping areas of nearshore reproductive habitat, constricted migratory habitat, breeding habitat, and Sargassum habitat. The concentrated breeding habitat area is from the MHW line on shore at 28.70° N, 80.66° W near Titusville to depths less than 60 m and extending south to Floridana Beach. This overlaps with waters in the northern portion of the Florida constricted migratory corridor, which begins at the tip of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (28.46° N. lat.) and ends at Floridana beach, including waters from the MHW line on shore to the 30 m depth contour. Additionally, the above two habitat areas overlap with two nearshore reproductive habitat areas. The first begins near Titusville at 28.70° N, 80.66° W to the south boundary of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station/Canaveral Barge Canal Inlet from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km. The second begins at Patrick Air Force Base, Brevard County, through the central Brevard Beaches to Floridana Beach from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(18) LOGG-N-18—Florida Constricted Migratory Corridor from Floridana Beach to Martin County/Palm Beach County Line; Nearshore Reproductive Habitat from Floridana Beach to the south end of Indian River Shores; Nearshore Reproductive Habitat from Fort Pierce inlet to Martin County/Palm Beach County Line, Brevard, Indian River and Martin Counties, Florida—This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat and constricted migratory habitat. The unit contains a portion of the Florida constricted migratory corridor, which is located in the nearshore waters from the MHW line to the 30 m depth contour off Floridana Beach to the Martin County/Palm Beach County line. This overlaps with two nearshore reproductive habitat areas. The first nearshore reproductive area includes nearshore areas from Floridana Beach to the south end of Indian River Shores (crossing Sebastian Inlet) from the MHW line seaward1.6 km. The second nearshore reproductive habitat area includes nearshore areas from Fort Pierce inlet to Martin County/Palm Beach County line (crossing St. Lucie Inlet) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(19) LOGG-N-19—Southern Florida Constricted Migratory Corridor; Southern Florida Concentrated Breeding Area; and Six Nearshore Reproductive Areas: Martin County/Palm Beach County line to Hillsboro Inlet, Palm Beach and Broward Counties, Florida; Long Key, Bahia Honda Key, Woman Key, Boca Grande Key, and Marquesas Keys, Monroe County, Florida—This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat, constricted migratory habitat, and breeding habitat. The unit contains the southern Florida constricted migratory corridor habitat, overlapping southern Florida breeding habitat, and overlapping nearshore reproductive habitat. The southern portion of the Florida concentrated breeding area and the southern Florida constricted migratory corridor are both located in the nearshore waters starting at the Martin County/Palm Beach County line to the westernmost edge of the Marquesas Keys (82.17° W. long.), with the exception of the waters under the jurisdiction of NAS Key West. The seaward border then follows the 200 m depth contour to the westernmost edge at the Marquesas Keys. The overlapping nearshore reproductive habitat includes nearshore waters starting at the Martin County/Palm Beach County line to Hillsboro Inlet (crossing Jupiter, Lake Worth, Boyton, and Boca Raton Inlets) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km; Long Key, which is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Florida Bay, and on the north and south by natural channels between Keys (Fiesta Key to the north and Conch Key to the south), and has boundaries following the borders of the island from the MHW line seaward to 1.6 km; Bahia Honda Key, from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km; 4) Woman Key, from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km; 5) Boca Grande Key, from the MHW line seaward to 1.6 km; 6) the Marquesas Keys unit boundary, including nearshore areas from the MHW line seaward to 1.6 km from four islands where loggerhead sea turtle nesting has been documented within the Marquesas Keys: Marquesas Key, Unnamed Key 1, Unnamed Key 2, and Unnamed Key 3.

(20) LOGG-N-20—Dry Tortugas, Monroe County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit boundary includes nearshore areas from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km (1.0 mile) from six islands where loggerhead sea turtle nesting has been documented within the Dry Tortugas. From west to east, these six islands are: Loggerhead Key, Garden Key, Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, and East Key.

(21) LOGG-N-21—Cape Sable, Monroe County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km from the north boundary of Cape Sable at 25.25° N, 81.17° W to the south boundary of Cape Sable at 25.12° N, 81.07° W.

(22) LOGG-N-22—Graveyard Creek to Shark Point, Monroe County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are nearshore areas from Shark Point (25.39° N, 81.15° W) to Graveyard Creek Inlet from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(23) LOGG-N-23—Highland Beach, Monroe County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are from First Bay to Rogers River Inlet from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(24) LOGG-N-24—Ten Thousand Islands North, Collier County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The unit boundary includes nearshore areas from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km of nine keys where loggerhead sea turtle nesting has been documented within the northern part of the Ten Thousand Islands in Collier County in both the Ten Thousand Islands NWR and the Rookery Bay NERR.

(25) LOGG-N-25—Cape Romano, Collier County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from Caxambas Pass to Gullivan Bay from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(26) LOGG-N-26—Keewaydin Island and Sea Oat Island, Collier County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from Gordon Pass to Big Marco Pass from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(27) LOGG-N-27—Little Hickory Island to Doctors Pass, Lee and Collier Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from Little Hickory Island to Doctors Pass (crossing Wiggins Pass and Clam Pass) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(28) LOGG-N-28—Captiva Island and Sanibel Island West, Lee County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from the north end of Captiva/Captiva Island Golf Club (starting at Redfish Pass and crossing Blind Pass) and along Sanibel Island West to Tarpon Bay Road, from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(29) LOGG-N-29—Siesta and Casey Keys, Sarasota County; Venice Beaches and Manasota Key, Sarasota and Charlotte Counties; Knight, Don Pedro, and Little Gasparilla Islands, Charlotte County; Gasparilla Island, Charlotte and Lee Counties; Cayo Costa, Lee County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are nearshore areas from Big Sarasota Pass to Catliva Pass (crossing Venice Inlet, Stump Pass, Gasparilla Pass, and Boca Grande Pass), from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(30) LOGG-N-30—Longboat Key, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are the north point of Longboat Key at Longboat Pass to New Pass, from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(31) LOGG-N-31St. Joseph Peninsula, Cape San Blas, St. Vincent, St. George and Dog Islands, Gulf and Franklin Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of this unit are from St. Joseph Bay to St. George Sound (crossing Indian, West, and East Passes) from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(32) LOGG-N-32—Mexico Beach and St. Joe Beach, Bay and Gulf Counties, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are from the eastern boundary of Tyndall Air Force Base to Gulf County Canal in St. Joseph Bay from the MHW line seaward 1.6 km.

(33) LOGG-N-33—Gulf State Park to FL/AL state line, Baldwin County, Alabama; FL/AL state line to Pensacola Pass, Escambia County, Florida: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from the west boundary of Gulf State Park to the Pensacola Pass (crossing Perido Pass and the Alabama-Florida border) from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km.

(34) LOGG-N-34—Mobile Bay — Little Lagoon Pass, Baldwin County, Alabama: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from Mobile Bay Inlet to Little Lagoon Pass from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km.

(35) LOGG-N-35—Petit Bois Island, Jackson County, Mississippi: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from Horn Island Pass to Petit Bois Pass from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km.

(36) LOGG-N-36—Horn Island, Jackson County, Mississippi: This unit contains nearshore reproductive habitat only. The boundaries of the unit are nearshore areas from Dog Keys Pass to the eastern most point of the ocean facing island shore from the MHW line and seaward to 1.6 km.

(37) LOGG-S-1—Atlantic Ocean Sargassum: This unit contains Sargassum habitat and overlaps with breeding habitat (LOGG-N-17). The western edge of the unit is the Gulf of Mexico-Atlantic border (83° W. long.) from 24.58° N. lat. to 23.82° N. lat. The outer boundary of the unit is the U.S. EEZ, starting at the Gulf of Mexico-Atlantic border (23.82° N. lat., 83° W. long.) and proceeding east and north until the EEZ coincides with the Gulf Stream at 37.84° N. lat., 70.59° W. long. The inner boundary of the unit starts at the Gulf of Mexico-Atlantic border (24.58° N. lat., 83° W. long.) to the outer edge of the breeding/migratory critical habitat (LOGG-N-19) at 24.34° N. lat., 82.16° W. long., along the outer edge of the corridor (following the 200 m depth contour) until it coincides with the breeding habitat off of Cape Canaveral (LOGG-N-17) at 27.97° N. lat., 80.14° W. long., and from there roughly following the velocity of 0.401-0.50 m/second (Ocean Conservancy 2012; PMEL 2012) until it coincides with the outer edge of the EEZ at 37.84° N. lat., 70.59° W. long.

(38) LOGG-S-2—Gulf of Mexico Sargassum. This unit contains Sargassum habitat only. The northern and western boundaries of the unit follow the 10 m depth contour starting at the mouth of South Pass of the Mississippi River proceeding west and south to the outer boundary of the U.S. EEZ. The southern boundary of the unit is the U.S. EEZ from the 10 m depth contour off of Texas to the Gulf of Mexico-Atlantic border (83° W. long.). The eastern boundary follows the 10 m depth contour from the mouth of South Pass of the Mississippi River at 28.97° N. lat., 89.15° W. long., in a straight line to the northernmost boundary of the Loop Current (28° N. lat., 89° W. long.) and along the eastern edge of the Loop Current roughly following the velocity of 0.101-0.20 m/second as depicted by Love et al. (2013) using the Gulf of Mexico summer mean sea surface currents from 1993-2011, to the Gulf of Mexico-Atlantic border (24.58° N. lat., 83° W. long.).

(b) Physical or biological features and primary constituent elements essential for conservation. The physical or biological features (PBFs) and primary constituent elements (PCEs) essential for conservation of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle are identified by habitat type below.

(1) Nearshore reproductive habitat. The PBF of nearshore reproductive habitat as a portion of the nearshore waters adjacent to nesting beaches that are used by hatchlings to egress to the open-water environment as well as by nesting females to transit between beach and open water during the nesting season. The following PCEs support this habitat:

(i) Nearshore waters directly off the highest density nesting beaches and their adjacent beaches, as identified in 50 CFR 17.95(c), to 1.6 km offshore;

(ii) Waters sufficiently free of obstructions or artificial lighting to allow transit through the surf zone and outward toward open water; and

(iii) Waters with minimal manmade structures that could promote predators (i.e., nearshore predator concentration caused by submerged and emergent offshore structures), disrupt wave patterns necessary for orientation, and/or create excessive longshore currents.

(2) Winter habitat. We describe the PBF of the winter habitat as warm water habitat south of Cape Hatteras near the western edge of the Gulf Stream used by a high concentration of juveniles and adults during the winter months. PCEs that support this habitat are the following:

(i) Water temperatures above 10 °C from November through April;

(ii) Continental shelf waters in proximity to the western boundary of the Gulf Stream; and

(iii) Water depths between 20 and 100 m.

(3) Breeding habitat. We describe the PBF of concentrated breeding habitat as those sites with high densities of both male and female adult individuals during the breeding season. PCEs that support this habitat are the following:

(i) High densities of reproductive male and female loggerheads;

(ii) Proximity to primary Florida migratory corridor; and

(iii) Proximity to Florida nesting grounds.

(4) Constricted migratory habitat. We describe the PBF of constricted migratory habitat as high use migratory corridors that are constricted (limited in width) by land on one side and the edge of the continental shelf and Gulf Stream on the other side. PCEs that support this habitat are the following:

(i) Constricted continental shelf area relative to nearby continental shelf waters that concentrate migratory pathways; and

(ii) Passage conditions to allow for migration to and from nesting, breeding, and/or foraging areas.

(5) Sargassum habitat. We describe the PBF of loggerhead Sargassum habitat as developmental and foraging habitat for young loggerheads where surface waters form accumulations of floating material, especially Sargassum. PCEs that support this habitat are the following:

(i) Convergence zones, surface-water downwelling areas, the margins of major boundary currents (Gulf Stream), and other locations where there are concentrated components of the Sargassum community in water temperatures suitable for the optimal growth of Sargassum and inhabitance of loggerheads;

(ii) Sargassum in concentrations that support adequate prey abundance and cover;

(iii) Available prey and other material associated with Sargassum habitat including, but not limited to, plants and cyanobacteria and animals native to the Sargassum community such as hydroids and copepods; and

(iv) Sufficient water depth and proximity to available currents to ensure offshore transport (out of the surf zone), and foraging and cover requirements by Sargassum for post-hatchling loggerheads, i.e., >10 m depth.

(c) Areas not included in critical habitat. Critical habitat does not include the following particular areas where they overlap with the areas described in paragraph (a) of this section:

(1) Pursuant to ESA section 4(a)(3)(B), all areas subject to the Naval Air Station Key West Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan.

(2) Pursuant to ESA section 3(5)(A)(i), all federally authorized or permitted manmade structures such as aids-to-navigation, boat ramps, platforms, docks, and pilings existing within the legal boundaries on August 11, 2014.

(d) Maps of loggerhead critical habitat follow:

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[79 FR 39889, July 10, 2014]

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