Tens of Thousands of Leatherback Turtles Nest on Gabonese Coast


Photo: Matthew Oldfield, CC
"the world’s largest known nesting ground for the giant and extremely endangered reptile"
The last time we wrote about leatherback turtles, it was bad news (Plastic Found in 1/3 of Leatherback Turtles, According to Study), but this time, we're pleased to learn that biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society in collaboration with local conservation groups found what is thought to be the largest nesting ground for leatherback turtles in the world! Read on for more details.
Leatherback turtle burying her eggs. Photo: Paul Mannix, CC
WCS writes:

estimate that anywhere from 15,000 to 41,000 female leatherback turtles are nesting there, making the spot the world’s largest known nesting ground for the giant and extremely endangered reptile. The estimates grew out of aerial surveys led by Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter in England and are described in a paper being published later this year in the journal Biological Conservation. Most of the nesting is taking place [around 79%] in areas that are already designated as parks or otherwise protected, the group says.

The turtles aren't quite out of the woods yet (that's a strange image...), because even if they are in areas protected from development, they can still be vulnerable to other threats such as stray logs from nearby forestry operations that drift and clutter beaches, blocking the way for turtles and keeping them from landing, or from going back to sea.

But still, it is good news to learn that such a massive nesting ground happens to be in an area that is relatively safe. Leatherback turtles are after all considered to be "Critically Endangered" according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Via New York Times, WCS
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