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Africa's sea turtles need passports for protection
Date:5/12/2011

Satellite tracking of olive ridley sea turtles off the coast of Central Africa has revealed that existing protected areas may be inadequate to safeguard turtles from fishing nets, according to scientists with the University of California-Santa Cruz, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Exeter, and others. Scientists involved in the study recommended the extension of an international marine park that spans the waters of Gabon and the Republic of Congo and better international cooperation to manage this threatened species.

The study was published May 11 in the online journal PLoS ONE. The authors of the study include: Sara M. Maxwell, Greg A. Breed, Barry A. Nickel, and Daniel P. Costa of the University of California-Santa Cruz; Junior Makanga-Bahouna, Edgard Pemo-Makaya, Richard Parnell, and Angela Formia of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Solange Ngouessono of the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, Libreville, Gabon; Brendan J. Godley, Matthew J. Witt of the University of Exeter; and Michael S. Coyne of the University of Exeter and SEATURTLE.org.

First author Sara Maxwell, who led the study as a graduate student at University of California Santa Cruz, said it provides novel insights into the movements of olive ridleys and how to better protect them.

"Thousands of olive ridley sea turtles are caught every year in fishing nets along the coast of Central Africa, yet we previously had no understanding of their movements or what areas are critical to protect their populations," said Maxwell, now a postdoctoral fellow with Marine Conservation Institute.

In the first comprehensive tracking study of olive ridley sea turtles during the nesting season, the authors used satellite transmitters to follow 18 female turtles during their journeys ashore to lay eggs. The nesting season brings the turtles closest to the coastline and to the danger of being captured in fishing nets.

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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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