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 Robotic fish to replace animal testing
17.06.2019 | Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

nachricht Marine oil snow
12.06.2019 | University of Delaware

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: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Uncovering hidden protein structures

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Monitoring biodiversity with sound: how machines can enrich our knowledge

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>