Maps Show Need for MPA for Sea Turtles in Southeast Asia

Written by on September 4, 2009 in Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law
Green Sea Turtle - Credit: Roy Niswanger/Marine Photobank

Green Sea Turtle – Credit: Roy Niswanger/Marine Photobank

A series of conservation maps produced by WWF reveal for the first time the secret life of endangered turtles in the world’s most diverse marine region – the Coral Triangle, made of six countries in Southeast Asian and the Pacific, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor L’Este.  The maps were produced with the help of satellite tracking, and allow the identification and targeting of areas in urgent need of protection.

Marine turtles are listed on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species as either ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered,’ meaning they are facing the real risk of extinction.

WWF map on green turtle migration coral triangle - Credt:WWF

WWF map on green turtle migration coral triangle – Credt:WWF

“We now have a better picture and more comprehensive understanding of where marine turtles feed, breed, and nest around the waters of the Coral Triangle,” says Matheus Halim, WWF Coral Triangle Turtle Strategy Leader.

The maps serve as a guideline for where to establish Marine Protected Areas for the six of the seven known species (flatback, green sea turtle, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley) of marine turtles in the world.

Apart from showing life cycle movements, the maps also give valuable information about locations with a high incidence of turtle bycatch in the region, helping to identify where fishing methods require modification.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle being tagged for tracking purposes - Credit: Kathleen Reaugh/Marine Photobank

Loggerhead Sea Turtle being tagged for tracking purposes – Credit: Kathleen Reaugh/Marine Photobank

“MPAs offer a range of benefits for fisheries, people, and the marine environment by providing safe havens for endangered species to thrive and for depleted fish stocks to recover,” says Dr Lida Pet-Soede, WWF Coral Triangle Programme Leader.

Although it is illegal to hunt them in many countries, sea turtles are caught for food and for tortoise shell throughout the world. Yet one of the most significant threats comes from bycatch due to imprecise fishing methods¹.  Other dangers come from marine debris, such as abandoned fishing nets, beach developments, which can disrupt the nesting cycle or even climate change, as the sand temperature at nesting beaches determine the sex of a turtle while developing in the egg.

WWF is working to protect turtles in critical nesting, foraging, and migratory habitats by establishing Protected Marine Areas and reduce turtle bycatch through gear change and the promotion of best fishing practices.

Green Sea Turtle, chelonia mydas - NOAA's Coral Kingdom Collection - Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR

Green Sea Turtle, chelonia mydas – NOAA’s Coral Kingdom Collection – Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR

Read complete story at the WWF news site.
¹ Read our related article “Emergency Rule to Protect Threatened Sea Turtles in the Gulf of Mexico
Read our related article “Endangered Leatherbacks Lead Researches to Hope
Read our related article “Turtle Hatchlings Under Serious Stress

Copyright ©  2009 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC

About the Author

About the Author: Celia is Director of Business Operations for OceanLines LLC and is a frequent contributor to both OceanLines and Marine Science Today. She is a certified diver and her favorite topic is marine biology, especially stories about whales. .

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