Leatherback Turtles Journey Across South Atlantic Tracked By Scientists

By on Jan 5, 2011 in Animals, Science Comments

The Leatherback turtles in the eastern Pacific Ocean was said to be declining over the past three decades. The decline is more than 90 percent because of the unsustainable harvesting of turtle eggs and by accidental catching in nets and traps that are meant for other marine species.

Leatherback Turtle
Female Leatherback Turtle with satellite tracker
Image Credit: by Rowan Byrne

According to international news sites, scientists conducted a study for five years to track the destinations of the Leatherback turtles. Scientist at the University of Exeter attached a satellite tracking devices onto the turtles and mapped their vast migration pattern.

Researchers said that the findings are important to protect the turtles from threats such as fishing nets and hooks, which have been blamed for the dramatic depletion of Leatherback turtles population in the Pacific Ocean.

After studying the turtles for five years, scientists were able to confirm three main migratory routes female turtles take when swimming from their breeding area in central Africa to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and down the coast off southern Africa.

“All of the routes we’ve identified take the Leatherbacks through areas of high risk from fisheries,” said Brendan Godley, a professor of conservation at the Exeter University, who also participated in the study.

Dr. Matthew Witt, who published the findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B said that the study helped identify 11 nations in the South Atlantic whose territorial waters the turtles pass through, and that those countries could take the lead on marine conservation efforts.

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