Tremough scientists urge governments to save threatened turtles
Ecology and conservation experts from the University of Exeter's
Tremough Campus, near Penryn, today urged international governments
to work together to protect threatened Caribbean sea turtle
The Cayman Islands, a UK Overseas Territory, once supported
one of the world's largest sea turtle rookeries, which comprised
some 6.5 million adult green and loggerhead turtles. These
populations were driven into decline from the mid-1600s onwards,
when massive harvesting of nesting turtles began. Only a few
dozen individuals survive today.
New research, led by the University of Exeter's School of
Biosciences at the Tremough Campus, reveals the astonishing
distances these animals travel and the extent to which they
are now threatened. The study was published 'open access'
today in the international conservation journal 'Endangered
Marine turtles spend most of their lives at sea, but where
these Cayman Islands survivors live when they are not nesting
has been a mystery until now. Experts from the University
of Exeter, the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and
Duke University, USA, followed the journeys of ten endangered
adult females over three years.
Using satellite transmitters, the team tracked the turtles
travelling as far as Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico,
Nicaragua and the USA. On these long journeys, turtles face
the risk of being caught for meat, as well as accidentally
captured by shrimp trawls, longlines, and gillnets. As turtles
travel across boundaries between countries, conservation legislation
is inconsistently applied and enforced, leaving them vulnerable.
Dr Brendan Godley of the School of Biosciences at the University
of Exeter's Cornwall campus said: "Having followed these
turtles thousands of miles through the ocean, we now know
where they go, so can identify which countries need to be
involved in their conservation. We are running out of time
and what is now needed is a team effort from all of the governments
to save these fragile populations."
For further information please contact Sarah Hoyle at the
University of Exeter on 01392 262062 or email S.Hoyle@exeter.ac.uk.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities
in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2 through
the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European
Social Fund (ESF). The University of Exeter is a partner in
The £86.2 million Tremough campus is a Combined Universities
in Cornwall initiative of which the University of Exeter and
University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners.
The investment is predominantly from the Objective One European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund
(ESF), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the
Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support
from Cornwall County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside,
but close to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the
campus offers a lively student community. The University of
Exeter is expanding its courses available to include Politics,
Law and History to existing degrees in Mining Engineering,
Geology, Biology, Geography, English and Renewable Energy.
Facts about sea turtles:
||Turtles evolved hundreds of millions of years ago. These
ancient reptiles have lived on earth since the time of
||Female turtles typically lay up to six 'clutches' of
over 100 eggs.
||The temperature of the sand around a nest determines
whether baby turtles, known as 'hatchlings', will be male
or female. Colder temperatures produce males, whereas
warmer temperatures produce females.
|| Hatchling turtles always return to the beaches where
they were born to nest.
||Baby turtles hatch from their nests at night and race
to the sea by moonlight. Lights near the beach should
be turned off during the summer so turtles do not go in
the wrong direction.
||It may take decades for green and loggerhead turtles
to mature in the wild.
||In some parts of the world, loggerhead and green turtles
are hunted for meat, and their eggs are taken from nesting
beaches. Today, both species are considered endangered.
||Sea turtles may be able to live for up to 100 years.
||Turtles drink saltwater and get rid of extra salt through
special glands in their eyes.
||Loggerhead and green turtles are found in tropical and
sub-tropical waters around the world.
To access the paper:
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