The world’s largest colony of leatherback sea turtles has been identified by scientists, raising hopes that the giant creature may not be as endangered as previously thought. A new survey [PDF] has revealed that Gabon, west Africa, has between 15,730 and 41,373 female turtles using its nesting beaches.
Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter, who led the research, said: “We knew that Gabon was an important nesting site for leatherback turtles but until now had little idea of the size of the population or its global ranking. We are now focusing our efforts on working with local agencies, to coordinate conservation efforts to ensure this population is protected against the threats from illegal fisheries, nest poaching, pollution and habitat disturbance.”
Concern for the leatherback grew after populations in the Indo-Pacific crashed by more than 90 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as critically endangered globally, with numbers of females thought to be as low as 34,000, but detailed population assessments in much of the Atlantic, especially Africa, had not previously been carried out. The new research is published in the journal Biological Conservation.
I just found out it´s from 2009 but the IUCN hasn´t done anything yet:
|Scientific Name:||Dermochelys coriacea|
|Species Authority:||(Vandelli, 1761)|
Testudo coriacea Vandelli, 1761
Assessment Information [top]
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Critically Endangered A1abd ver 2.3|
|Assessor/s:||Sarti Martinez, A.L. (Marine Turtle Specialist Group)|
|Reviewer/s:||Crouse, D. & Abreu, A. (Marine Turtle Red List Authority)|
The main procedure for evaluating the status of sea turtles is through surveys of reproduction activity at nesting beaches. Decline in nesting has been documented to be much greater than 80% in most of the populations of the Pacific, which has been considered the species’ major stronghold. In other areas of its range, the observed declines are not as severe, with some populations showing trends towards increasing or stable nesting activity. Analysis of published estimates of global population sizes (Pritchard 1982, Spotila et al. 1996), suggest a reduction of over 70% for the global population of adult females in less than one generation. The populations in the Pacific Ocean, the species’ stronghold until recently, have declined drastically in the last decade, with current annual nesting female mortalities estimated at around 30% (Sarti et. al. 1996, Spotila et al. 2000). In some areas, formerly abundant rookeries have almost disappeared. For the Atlantic Ocean, the available information demonstrates that the largest population is in the French Guyana but the trends there are unclear. Some of the Caribbean nesting populations appear to be increasing but their sizes are very small when compared to those that nested in the Pacific coasts less than 10 years ago.