Sea turtles have been making it to the top of the headlines recently, all positive for a change and I thought I would use this blog to draw attention to this. Additionally, I feel it’s always nice to give some attention to the turtles.
So the first piece of news, the secrets of the sea turtle migration have been uncovered. It turns out that the reproduction migration (females returning to their nesting beaches) is not the longest migration that sea turtles carry out. It has been found from the compilation of long term capture programs that the migration of immature turtles, termed “developmental migration”, is longer than the reproductive migration. Also this migration is only carried out once in their life time rather than every few years. On the migration topic as well, a study was carried out to determine the migration of juvenile leatherback sea turtles. However, due to the size and the weight of the juveniles it is impossible to attach a satellite tag to their shells without them sinking. So instead of following the hatchlings the scientists followed the currents. The “lost years” of a turtle’s life, the age between hatching and returning to foraging grounds can be anywhere between 3 to 5 years after they hatch. These years are the least understood part of a turtle’s life. Knowing more about where the turtles swim before they reach adulthood could be critical in protecting the species.
Next up, a bill is being put into place in California with the aim to raise awareness and aid in preventing sea turtles going extinct, particularly the leatherback turtle. California is making sea turtles an official marine reptile; they will join the likes of the desert tortoise, gray whales and other plants animals including fish as symbols of the state. In addition to this, 41,000 square miles of ocean off the coast will become a protected habitat. California is making a bold move in doing this, however they are providing the opportunity for this species to survive and thrive in their waters. Hopefully, this will set an example for many other countries.
Lastly, a recent report has been produced by a variety of organizations assessing the status of sea turtle population globally. The compilation of this data has resulted in a baseline study for all sea turtle populations, providing a blueprint for conservation and research. Also it resulted in the production of two population maps: one map of the healthy population and one of the threatened populations. This report was produced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Marine Turtle Specialist Group in a collaboration involving over 30 experts from 6 continents and in more than 20 countries. The population maps can be found in PDF format at this link.