Leatherback Turtle Makes Longest Migration and Hawksbills Resurface in Gulf of California

1/22/2008

Annual SWOT Report�The State of the World�s Sea Turtles Magazine Showcases New Data

Loreto, Mexico Today, the third annual volume of SWOT Report�The State of the World�s Sea Turtles magazine has been launched at the 28th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, being held in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

One of the magazine�s headlining stories illustrates what is one of the longest recorded migrations of any vertebrate, a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) that was satellite-tagged in Jamursba-Medi, Indonesia, and swam across the Pacific to the coast of Oregon, U.S.A. a total distance of 20,558 kilometers (12,774 miles) over 647 days.

In SWOT Report, Vol. III, scientists Dr. Peter Dutton and Scott Benson of NOAA�s National Marine Fisheries Service�s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Creusa Hitipeuw of WWF-Indonesia present an article about this important journey. Compared to this leatherback, the longest measured annual migration of any animal, terrestrial or marine, is the sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) of nearly 64,000 kilometers (approx. 40,000 miles) between New Zealand and the North Pacific. Of vertebrates that travel through the ocean, this leatherback�s journey is the longest ever recorded.

Scott Benson said, "Understanding sea turtles' and other marine animals' movements in this way is critical to ensuring their protection. Ocean-going animals often pass through multiple nations� territories and international waters as they migrate, making their survival the responsibility of not just one nation but many."

"SWOT Report is all about providing a global perspective of sea turtles to encourage international protection of these ancient, endangered animals," said Roderic B. Mast, chief editor of SWOT Report, as well as a vice president of Conservation International and co-chair of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group, two of the major partners in the SWOT initiative. "This one leatherback�s migration provides a perfect example of how marine conservation strategies must be as global as the ocean life we are trying to safeguard."

The magazine also highlights the disappearance of hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) from the Eastern Pacific Ocean in the past century and the work of the CAREY! conservation project to discover what has happened to the sea turtles. Traveling from community to community along the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico, scientists Alexander Gaos and Ingrid Ya�ez have uncovered optimistic data that the population of once-prolific hawksbills is not yet extinct.

Other features within SWOT Report, Vol. III include:

  • Sea turtles, mythology and indigenous peoples threading throughout the magazine, this theme also ties the publication to its launch at the 28th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, held in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico, where local and indigenous peoples will be an important part of the presentations and activities including the local Seri Indian tribe, who will reveal their ancient leatherback turtle veneration ceremony to Symposium attendees.
  • The global status of hawksbill turtles including a new global map of Japanese bekko (hawksbill shell) imports and the most detailed global map to-date of hawksbill nesting sites around the world.
  • Plastic marine debris an overview of how marine debris affects sea turtles and other marine species around the world, and how individuals� everyday actions can help alleviate this rampant threat.

See the tip sheet for additional story ideas during the year�s most sea turtle-filled week, during the 28th annual Sea Turtle Symposium, Jan. 19�26, 2008.

SWOT Report, Vol. III as well as the two previous issues of the magazine from 2006 and 2007 may be downloaded from the SWOT website at www.SeaTurtleStatus.org. SWOT also distributes the magazines free of charge and distributes small grants to conservation partners around the world who wish to use the magazine in their outreach and conservation awareness-raising campaigns. For more information, visit the SWOT website.

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PHOTOS AVAILABLE HERE.

Media Contact:

Lisa M. Bailey
Marine Communications Manager
Conservation International
Email: lbailey@conservation.org
Phone through Jan. 18: +1 703-341-2602  
Phone Jan. 19�28: +1 202-390-0034 (mobile)

SWOT�the State of the World�s Sea Turtles is a partnership led by Conservation International (CI) and the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG), but the lifeblood of the effort is the network of more than 400 data contributors that contribute data to the SWOT database collectively known as the "SWOT team" which offers the only global perspective of sea turtles by volunteering its data to the SWOT initiative. Each year, these data and updates on conservation initiatives across the globe are published in an internationally distributed magazine, SWOT Report, that encapsulates the current status of sea turtle populations worldwide and provide recommendations for advancing sea turtle and general marine conservation. To download issues of the magazine, visit www.SeaTurtleStatus.org.

Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy, and community participation to protect the Earth�s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.

The Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG), a Species Specialist Group within the IUCN World Conservation Union, is a group of more than 300 experts hailing from 70 countries and representing knowledge of all the world�s major sea turtle stocks. Its mission it is to develop and support strategies, set priorities, and provide tools that promote and guide the conservation of marine turtles and their ecological roles and habitats. For more information about the MTSG, visit http://www.iucn-mtsg.org/.

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