Through the use of transmitters, for the first time, scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter were able to track the voyage of three groups of leatherback turtles over the course of their journey from Africa to South America.
The researchers tracked 25 female leatherbacks over the course of 5 years. They found that three of the females made their way to the coast of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay while others remained just off the coast of Africa, and at least one spent more than a year and a half swimming around the middle of the Atlantic for a total of over 7,000 miles before returning to her nesting beach in Africa to breed.
Matthew Witt, the project leader, noted that in all the migration routes the team was able to identify, the turtles made their way to food-rich areas of the ocean, even those that stayed in the middle of the Atlantic.
It’s hoped that data from this project will help prevent the further decline of the leatherback population. The study identified 11 countries that should be involved in conservation efforts.
The Guardian article can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jan/05/leatherback-turtles-atlantic-journeys,and the publication of the research findings at http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/01/05/rspb.2010.2467.full
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