Their findings, published this week, are shocking: almost 3,000 sea turtles were found dead along a 27-mile stretch of coast during a five-year period from 2003 to 2007.
Led by Hoyt Peckham, a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study underscores the enormous impact of bycatch (marine life accidentally killed by fishing operations) on sea turtles. Bycatch and, to a lesser degree, poaching are both significant threats to the survival of the endangered Pacific loggerhead sea turtle population, Peckham said.
"We saw what are apparently the highest documented stranding and fisheries bycatch rates in the world," he said. "But the high bycatch rates offer us all an unexpected conservation opportunity. By working with just a handful of fishermen to diminish their bycatch, we can save hundreds of turtles."
Peckham and his coauthors, whose findings appear in a special bycatch issue of Endangered Species Research, are working to increase awareness of the problems facing sea turtles in Baja California Sur. They hope this report will encourage Mexico's government agencies to finalize creation of a refuge that protects turtles and encourages sustainable fishing in the area.
"We have counted so many dead turtles. We have piles of data on thousands of carcasses. What we need now are conservation actions and viable solutions," said Wallace J. Nichols, research associate with the California Academy of Sciences and a coauthor of the paper.
The authors partnered with local fishermen not only to assess bycatch but also to increase awareness of its far-reaching effects and work toward ending the threat.
"Once they are aware of the ocean-wide impacts of their local bycatch, fishermen often strive to fish more cleanly by switching to different techniques, target species, or areas," Peckham said. "As a result, stranding rates were down in 2008."
In addition, local fishermen are working with the Mexican government to designate a sea turtle refuge that would officially protect an area the researchers identified as a "hotspot" of turtle bycatch.
Conservation tourism offers another potential solution to these problems by giving fishermen an alternative to dwindling, inefficient fisheries, Peckham said. Through training and a steady tourism market, many fishermen and former poachers have come to value sea turtles more highly alive than dead, because conducting tours can yield more income than fishing, he added. One organization that has promoted ecotourism in this area is the Ocean Conservancy through its SEE Turtles program (www.seeturtles.org). The program links travelers with critical sea turtle conservation sites so that vacation dollars can both protect the sea turtles and enhance the livelihood of community residents who protect them.
North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles travel more than 7,000 miles from Japan to Baja California Sur to feed and grow in nearshore waters, spending up to 30 years there before returning to Japan to breed. The number of nesting females in Japan has declined by 50 to 80 percent over the past 10 years, Peckham said.
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
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