Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pacific leatherback turtle could go extinct in 10 years

26.02.2004


Leatherback turtle nesting in French Guiana
Credit: Seaturtle.org ® Matthew Godfrey


Scientists at international conference release strategy to save them

The leatherback turtle, a gentle giant weighing close to a ton (907 kg) and measuring eight feet (2.4 meters) in length, may be extinct within a decade in the Pacific Ocean.

The news was released at the 24th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology, a weeklong conference in San Jose, Costa Rica attended by more than 1,000 experts from 70 countries.



Named for its smooth, leathery skin, the leatherback has graced ocean waters from the tropics to the Arctic since the time of the dinosaurs more than 100 million years ago. But scientists have documented a precipitous decline of the Pacific leatherback in the past two decades. Since 1982, their numbers have dropped from approximately 115,000 reproductive females to fewer than 3,000 remaining today, a decline of 97 percent.

"On land, the canary in the coal mine warns humans of impending environmental danger," said Roderic Mast, Conservation International Vice President and President of the International Sea Turtle Society. "Sea turtles act as our warning mechanism for the health of the ocean, and what they’re telling us is quite alarming. Their plummeting numbers are, unfortunately, symptomatic of the ocean as a whole."

Although the leatherback may be the world’s best-known sea turtle, five of the other six sea turtle species are also at risk of extinction. The Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill turtles are classified by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, as is the leatherback. The green, olive ridley and loggerhead turtles are all considered Endangered. The flatback turtle, found solely on the northern coast of Australia, is regarded as Data Deficient.

Sea turtles face threats ranging from destructive fishing practices such as long-lining and the poaching of turtle eggs, which some cultures regard as a delicacy. Long-lining is a practice in which ships extend up to 90 miles of fishing line with as many as 8,000 hooks, many of which unintentionally capture and kill sea turtles instead of their intended targets of fish.

"The Pacific leatherbacks currently face an annual mortality rate of up to 30 percent," said James R. Spotila, Drexel University Professor of Environmental Science. "That rate is clearly unsustainable, and without dramatic intervention, we can expect to see them disappear in as soon as a decade."

Scientists say that a two-pronged approach is necessary in order to reverse the rapid population decline of sea turtles:


Nesting beaches require stronger protections and more careful management. Uncontrolled beachfront development and the poaching of eggs are threats to their survival. Lights on land present another threat, since turtles confuse them for the moon and walk toward them, leaving them stranded and unable to return to the ocean. Stronger protections to beaches in St. Croix and South Africa, for example, have allowed leatherback populations to begin rebounding.

The ocean needs greater levels of protection and the fishing industry needs to employ new and safer techniques. Currently, less than one-half of one percent of the ocean enjoys formal protection. Fishermen targeting fish species often unintentionally kill sea turtles as "by-catch." Small and inexpensive changes to fishing techniques, such as slightly larger hooks and traps from which sea turtles can escape, can dramatically cut the mortality rate.

Scientists and conservationists at the conference highlighted several international success stories that demonstrate that well-planned conservation efforts can halt and reverse the decline of the sea turtles.
For example, four Latin American nations, the United Nations Foundation, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund are investing several million dollars over the next three years to consolidate a marine protected area that stretches from Ecuador to Costa Rica.

The 24th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology is focusing on the relationship between humans and sea turtles this year. Once only a forum for an exchange of ideas, the symposium today has evolved into one of the most important and influential decision-making bodies for the conservation of sea turtles worldwide.


Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the hotspots, major tropical wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.

Brad Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.conservation.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment

20.04.2018 | Health and Medicine

Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

20.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars

20.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>