Study maps accidental killings of sea turtles

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Cowboy_Ken

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WASHINGTON -- April 04, 2013 Sea turtles can get accidentally caught and killed in fishing operations, and new research out Monday seeks to map this phenomenon for the first time in a bid to save the endangered creatures.

A SEA TURTLE crawls across the beach as it is released back into the sea at the Sea Turtle Conservation Center in Sattahip in this August 2010 file photo. -- AFP
The study in the journal Ecosphere said sea turtles in the East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Mediterranean face the highest by-catch mortality rates.

However, not enough is known about the problem in much of the world, with "significant data gaps" in the Indian Ocean and the waters off Africa and Southeast Asia highlighting the "urgent need for increased monitoring," said the study.

"We lose hundreds or thousands of turtles each year in populations that are already at risk," said lead author Bryan Wallace of Duke University. "Many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction if we don’t reduce by-catch."

Researchers also found that near-shore fisheries pose a significant threat to turtles, rivaling that of large scale, open ocean fisheries.

The highest by-catch rates in the world were found in small-scale fishing operations off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. There, a 100-boat fishing fleet has been found to be lethal to as many loggerhead turtles annually as all other fisheries in the North Pacific combined, according to Conservation International.

Last year more than 2,000 turtles were killed by the small fleet, marking a 600% increase over previous mortality estimates, the group said.

The analysis was based on more than 1,800 by-catch records spanning back two decades, and was done by researchers from Conservation International, Oceanic Society, San Diego State University, Duke University and Stanford University.

"This study should serve as an initial roadmap to prioritize investment of limited resources to sustainably manage fisheries to minimize by-catch," Mr. Wallace said.

Previous research has shown that use of nets with turtle-sized escape hatches can drastically cut back on accidental deaths.

Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles are considered endangered. -- AFP
 

tortadise

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Great post Ken. It just so happens in 37 days i will be making another sea turtle aid trip to costa rica. The sea turtles do need a lot of help. Thanks for posting.
 

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tortadise said:
Great post Ken. It just so happens in 37 days i will be making another sea turtle aid trip to costa rica. The sea turtles do need a lot of help. Thanks for posting.

Can I hide in your bag? Please???
 

tortadise

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Jacqui said:
tortadise said:
Great post Ken. It just so happens in 37 days i will be making another sea turtle aid trip to costa rica. The sea turtles do need a lot of help. Thanks for posting.

Can I hide in your bag? Please???

Sure. I do have to say thought I have never been this time of season. So the leatherbacks wont be be nesting. But the olive ridley should be laying. I don't go on the Caribbean side of the country so I never see the greens, or hawksbills.
 

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tortadise said:
Great post Ken. It just so happens in 37 days i will be making another sea turtle aid trip to costa rica. The sea turtles do need a lot of help. Thanks for posting.

Please share what you do to "aid".


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tortadise

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I go to the turtle research foundation in Playa grande. Its a group that just logs everything from clutch sizes and also the females that are caught laying in a potential high tide area or not sufficient area for eggs to incubate and show good result for the little guys to make it out to sea. Those eggs in those areas are removed and put into the "hatchery" basically we take the eggs from the nest and move them into another nest higher up on the beach under nets and fences. Those little guys when they hatch out will be released by humans(the turtle research group) and given a 100% chance at making it to the water instead of the long run to the water dodging birds, crabs, and other predators. Few years ago a female Olive Ridley decided to nest at 6 A.M. So we watched her dig her nest and counted the eggs she laid. Marked the nest site on a map, and watch her go back out into the sea. We don't mark the nests on the beach because its taboo to eat sea turtle eggs. However the beaches in Costa Rica are a "Do not enter" area after dark. I figured this out the first time I went by getting an ak-47 shoved in my face and told to get off the beach. Around sun down the ministry of agriculture in Costa Rica has employees walk the beach where the nesting sites are for the leatherbacks. The operation works as a unit. They have a home base and the two scouters have radios and walk the beach up and down all night. When they find females on shore they radio guards to come to their location and literally stay with each female that is laying under armed company. Quite fascinating to see such devotion of conservation. The stretch of miles where these leatherback nest isn't very big at all. When the nesting season is in full swing sometimes you will see 100's of females right next to one another. The area they lay is beach and then rainforest. So its real easy for Tikos(Costa Rican natives) to just wait for a female to come up unguarded and snatch some of her eggs while she lays. Its a breath taking site. No lights are ever permitted for use except infrared red bulbs. But even those are used very little around the females. They are definitely hard to see but you can here them if you hang out in the jungle just along the edge of the beach with their giant flippers digging sand. Im also going to venture to the sloth sanctuary not this trip but the trip in November this year too. Costa Rica is a great pioneer for conservation. I wish more countries would utilize their methods and respect for endangered species. I will never be able to bring back photos of the leatherbacks(No cameras allowed) but hopefully I can get some of the Ridleys during the day.
 

Blakem

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WOW! What an experience. You are one lucky guy to be able to experience nature at its finest, in this case. I would love, not only with turtles, to experience this. I know people can pay (I'm pretty sure?) to go watch this sort of thing with leatherbacks. My girlfriends dad was walking on the beach early one morning in cancun, Mexico and was lucky enough to walk up on a group watching. I am not sure of the whole story, didn't want to ask too many questions, but it seemed once in a lifetime for most.
I too wish countries took such and effort to protect animals like this. Too cool.
Sorry Ken for hijacking your thread, I do like your article!


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