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Spanish researchers discover significant leatherback turtle nesting beaches in the Caribbean

July 30, 2008. A scientific project funded by the BBVA Foundation and conducted by a team from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) explored around 100 kilometers of practically uncharted Atlantic beach in the north of Colombia and south of Panama between the years 2006 and 2007. In the course of their work, they came across extensive nesting grounds that bring new hope for the survival of the leatherback turtle. This species suffered a grave decline in the twentieth century and is among those considered by the World Conservation Union to be in critical danger of extinction.

The project has permitted the documenting of around 6,000 new annual nests in the zone. The most important site is Armila beach in southern Panama, which is being managed by the indigenous Kuna community with stringent protection measures in place for the turtles. Armila is home to one of the highest known densities of leatherback nests, with a similarly high birth success rate. It is also an exceptional model of ancestral co-existence with a positive conservation impact for a seriously imperiled species.

The results of this study confirm the Central American Caribbean as the world's fourth largest nesting zone for the leatherback turtle after the Guayanas, Gabon and the island of Trinidad. However the success of Armila was not repeated at remaining beaches along the exploration route, where the team detected severe disturbances that impair turtle nesting including grave cases of nest raiding and could jeopardize the future of this leatherback population.


Contact: Comunicacin Fundacin BBVA
Fundacin BBVA

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