"SAVANNAH, Ga. — A federal judge ordered an immediate halt on Thursday to plans to dredge a shipping channel on the Georgia coast, citing a threat to sea turtles nesting on nearby beaches.
The injunction by U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker delivered an initial setback to the Army Corps of Engineers. The agency is trying to end a policy that for 30 years limited to the winter months the dredging of accumulated sand and mud in harbors from the Carolinas to Florida.
The seasonal limits were enacted to protect sea turtles from being killed and maimed by the vacuum-like suction pumps of hopper dredges, and conservationists credit that policy with helping threatened and endangered turtles species begin to rebound.
Giant loggerhead sea turtles, protected as a federally threatened species, nest during the spring and summer months on beaches from North Carolina to Florida. Smaller numbers of endangered green and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles lay eggs in the region as well."