Satellite Tracking of marine turtles | WWF

Satellite Tracking of marine turtles

	© WWF Guianas
Marine Turtle caught by hook
© WWF Guianas
February 2014
Leatherbacks nesting at the Guianas beaches belong to the last large Leatherback populations in the world.

The Guianas beaches are still a relative safe haven for these gentle giants. However, an international study -based on satellite research tracking 106 Leatherbacks in the Atlantic and southwest Indian Oceans- shows great risks for these populations by longline fishing efforts.

An equivalent of 730,000 hooks per day are set in the deep sea international waters that are also traveled by the turtles. The international study, jointly led by Dr Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter and Dr Sabrina Fossette of Swansea University, found that urgent international efforts are needed to protect the iconic species.

WWF Guianas colleagues Laurent Kelle, and Avanaisa Turney co-authored the report.


2010 and 2011-
Individual migration patterns of marine turtles are shown below.
The turtles were all given Amerindian names; with Gabi being a Leatherback whereas  O'Tawa, Amyja and Wori were Green turtles.

These turtles were tagged in Suriname by the WWF Guianas marine turtle conservation officers, with funding support from the Adessium Foundation.

Satellite Tracking of Marine Turtles

In order to help reduce fisheries interactions with marine turtles WWF Guianas has been attempting to assess the migration routes of the marine turtle species that frequent the shores of the Guianas.

Conservation scientists like to know where marine turtles are congregated between nesting events and where they migrate to after they have completed their nesting for the season. With this knowledge it may be possible to select areas where interactions between fishing gear and turtles are likely to be great, and establish “no fishing or no netting zones” at these sites.

Therefore, in 2010 and 2011, WWF deployed satellite transmitters on leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea and green turtles, Chelonia mydas to monitor their inter-nesting and post nesting behavior.
Based on the tracking data obtained, it is confirmed that leatherback sea turtles cross the Atlantic Ocean once they have completed their nesting.

Green turtles on the other hand clearly migrate to Brazilian waters once they have completed nesting. Unfortunately, all transmitters stopped transmitting earlier than hoped, and so WWF plans to deploy more transmitters on turtles in 2012 in order to address some information gaps that still exist with regards to the final foraging locations of the leatherbacks in the Atlantic, and of the greens on arrival in Brazilian waters.

	© Gabi Close
Gabi Close
© Gabi Close
	© Amyja Close
Amyja Close
© Amyja Close
	© O'Tawa Colse
O'Tawa Colse
© O'Tawa Colse
	© Wori Close
Wori Close
© Wori Close