Scientists earn prestigious recognition for data and map, which will advance conservation prioritization for endangered sea turtles; collaboration by hundreds of researchers establishes unprecedented global view
Arlington, VA — A collaborative scientific effort involving
hundreds of volunteers around the world over a period of seven years, has
pioneered new understanding of the key nesting sites of the endangered green sea
turtle, and garnered the top prize in conservation mapping for 2011.
This week Andrew DiMatteo, cartographer and database manager
of the State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWOT) Project and
Associate in Research at Duke University, was announced as the grand prize
winner of the International Conservation Mapping Competition by the geographic
information systems (GIS) software developer Esri for his
work in creating a map of green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting
sites around the world.
The award winning map is an up-to-date global snapshot of the nesting sites
of the endangered green turtle, which has the broadest nesting distribution of
all sea turtle species. The map was published in the recently released SWOT Report — The State of the World's Sea
Turtles, Vol. 6, and displays 1,167 nesting sites from more than 200
data contributors and published sources.
"It's an honor to be recognized for our work and it's my hope that this
achievement will be able to draw more attention to the needs of sea turtle
conservation," DiMatteo said. The International Conservation Mapping Competition
is a partnership with Esri, the Society for Conservation GIS and
Conservation Magazine. All the award winning maps, which were announced
in the June issue of Conservation Magazine, were selected for their
visual aesthetic and the impact they can provide communities to drive
The data were collected in challenging field conditions by creative and
improvisational means including by airplane, by horseback, by boat, and on foot.
Hundreds of individuals and organizations from over 100 countries voluntarily
contributed the data.
The map shows the prolific nature of green turtle nesting habits on the
global and regional scales allowing for multiple views of the current status of
specific populations. Raine Island, Australia, Tortuguero, Costa Rica,
and Poilão, Guinea-Bissau were found to be among the top nesting beaches for
"The map is a shining example of what can be accomplished when trust and
strong data sharing protocols are combined to create a useful, informative, and
effective product," said Charles Convis, the Esri Conservation Program
Coordinator. "The SWOT Worldwide Green Turtle Nesting Sites map allows
scientists from around the world to contribute findings and collaborate for a
The green sea turtle nesting map is the final global map in a series that
documents the nesting sites and abundances of each sea turtle species, which was
created through the seven-year SWOT collaboration of more than 550 partners —
coordinated by Conservation International (CI), the
IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG), and Duke
"None of this would have been possible without our 'SWOT team' of data
providers around the world in collaboration with our partners from Duke, CI, and
the MTSG," DiMatteo added.
"Visualizing knowledge on green turtle nesting grounds around the world has
increased international cooperation and exchange of knowledge about this
endangered species," said Maggie Muurmans, director of the local non-profit
Yayasan Pulau Banyak in Aceh, Indonesia and data contributor to SWOT. "This
allows information from hundreds of conservation projects to be readily
available to individual sea turtle conservationists around the world."
"We are finally observing a change in human attitudes towards these
incredible animals" said Dr. Bryan Wallace, Scientific Director
of CI's Marine Flagship Species Program. "Where once they were primarily valued
as a resource to be exploited, they are now earning their due respect as
ecosystem engineers, and indicators of ocean health and processes."
WEBSITE: The SWOT VI Report, including the map of
Worldwide Green Turtle Nesting Sites and information on the nesting and habits
of the other six species of sea turtles.
WEBSITE: The entire SWOT Database can be interacted with
on the OBIS-SEAMAP website.
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LEARN MORE: CI's Sea Turtle
Note to editors:
Conservation International (CI) — Building upon a strong
foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers
societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global
biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI has
headquarters in the Washington, DC area, and nearly 900 employees working in
more than 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the
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