Scientists and conservationists published this study to explain the long-distance migrations of leatherback turtles from Costa Rica to the South Pacific Gyre. The scientists included specific methods, like tagging, to observe the movements of the leatherback population in the eastern Pacific. Results confirm certain factors influencing migratory patterns for leatherbacks, like strong ocean currents. Ocean migrations of leatherback turtles present government official and scientists opportunities for conservation.
The migratory patterns of leatherback sea turtles have posed a concern for conservation. The leatherback population in the eastern Pacific has declined more than 90% over the past two decades due to certain factors, such as habitat loss and unsustainable egg harvest. Scientists have tracked 46 females over a 4-year period, which is the largest multi-year study of leatherbacks. Leatherbacks that were studied spend about 60 days around their nesting beaches on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Results of tracking leatherbacks indicate that the leatherbacks followed a predictable route with a specific direction.
Materials and Methods:
Scientists used special tagging devices to keep track of movements and temperatures of leatherback turtles during their migration. They covered possible factors that contributed to the leatherbacks’ movements in the ocean, such as ocean currents and food supply. They decided to remove the influence of currents from the leatherbacks’ trajectory to observe the true behavior of a turtle, which could possibly be considered as the control group to compare true behavior with influenced behavior. They also measured the area region in which the leatherbacks traveled along the eastern Pacific. They also kept track of the phytoplankton distribution in the ocean, which is food for the leatherbacks.
46 female leatherback turtles were tagged during oviposition over a 4-year period spanning from January 21, 2004 to July 5, 2007. During the entire tag duration, the leatherbacks moved at a speed of 37.7 km and at a distance of 8,070 km. However, a bigger sample size of over 100 would be appropriate, since this study expands in large oceanic areas. After the female leatherbacks completed their nesting, they departed the breeding area and began long-distance migration to the feeding areas of more than 8,000 km away. They remained at the feeding areas from 2 to 7 years. Costa Rica would be the nesting grounds and the South Pacific Gyre would be their feeding grounds. Therefore this result is reasonable due to their regular migratory pattern. Scientists have also kept track of strong ocean currents along the eastern Pacific to observe their influence of the leatherbacks’ migration. Some of the ocean currents were stronger than the others, like the currents in 2007 were stronger than those in 2005. The stronger the currents are, the more wide spread...