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Scientists call for protected 'swimways' for the endangered leatherback sea turtle
Date:10/17/2008

am of co-authors who believe their work may make "adaptive" closures a realistic conservation approach, "These models will consider areas of highest risk/interaction with fisheries and provide governments and fisheries with the opportunity to protect leatherbacks as they move in real-time." In the recent study, Persistent Leatherback Turtle Migrations Present Opportunities for Conservation, Shillinger used satellite tracking and remote sensing to describe the effects of oceanography, such as ocean currents, phytoplankton distribution and sea-floor topography, on Pacific leatherbacks' distribution and movement; and then developed a model that could predict the presence or absence of the sea turtles. His work is part of the Census of Marine Life's (CoML) Tagging of Pacific Pelagics (TOPP) initiative, a multidisciplinary, international research program utilizing electronic tags to track the migrations of a variety of open ocean animals. Shillinger adds, "Now it's time to turn the high-tech science into political will and conservation action for critically endangered leatherbacks."

The last members of an ancient lineage that has outlived the dinosaurs, leatherback sea turtles are ocean giants that grow to the size of small automobiles, dive more than half a mile deep, and migrate across the entire Ocean basins to feed in the jellyfish-rich waters off the west coast of North and South AmericaLeatherbacks swim over 6,000 miles within a single year - the largest geographic range of any living marine reptile, and one of the longest known migrations for any marine species in the world.

"Leatherback sea turtles survived the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, but they are unlikely to survive our unsustainable appetite for swordfish and tuna," said Todd Steiner, Executive Director of the U.S.-based Turtle Island Restoration Network and a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. "If leatherbacks are to survive the coming decades, we must conv
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Contact: George Shillinger
georges@stanford.edu
202-549-0987
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert

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