Trace the leather turtle by satellite
Using satellites to track journeys and traces of leather turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) is a new discovery promising to effectively support the conservation of rare turtles and will probably put a temporary dot of the fishing industry in some biodiversity hotspots around the world.
Leather turtles are the largest sea turtle species, also the largest reptile species living in the sea, with a mature body weight that can weigh more than 900kg and length up to nearly 2m. However, the large size does not seem to be enough to help them escape the threat of stalking.
In the past two decades alone, the number of populations of leather turtles living in the Pacific Ocean has decreased by 90%, mainly due to the trawling of fishing vessels. Unfortunately, biologists have yet to find a way to find out exactly where and when turtles often suffer.
Leather turtles are capable of traveling thousands of miles throughout the Pacific so tracking them from the ground or in the ocean is not feasible. Biologist Helen Bailey of the Center for Environmental Science - University of Maryland (USA) and his colleagues went to the satellite tracking method.
By attaching soft-line transceivers to turtles, every time a turtle floats to the surface, the team will catch signals from satellite transmitters.
This study has been conducted over the past 15 years on 135 individual female turtles that reside in the Eastern and Western Pacific regions, focusing on monitoring their hunting activity. Experts have discovered populations of Western Pacific leather turtles that tend to leave the Indonesian nesting area to feed in the South China Sea, the Indonesian waters, the south-east waters of Australia and the US West Coast. . Such a distance makes them vulnerable to fishermen's fishing nets.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Pacific populations of leather turtles regularly move from Mexico and Costa Rica to the southeast Pacific waters. The risk of getting caught in fishing nets and equipment, especially in the area along the coast of South America is also quite high because the population of turtles here is very dense.
In the face of increasing threats to the life of leather turtles, the use of satellite devices to track their tracks is expected to help scientists and managers determine the time. The time and place they encountered are in time to rescue and deploy more effective conservation solutions in the future.
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