By April Overall
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have documented a whopping 78 per cent decline in leatherback sea turtle nests at key Pacific nesting habitat locations. Nests at Jamursba Medi Beach in Papua Barat, Indonesia, which up until now, has accounted for 75 per cent of the entire leatherback nesting in the western Pacific, are dwindling. In 1984, approximately 14,455 leatherbacks used this area for nesting every year, but in less than 30 years, this number has dropped to 500.
There are a number of reasons leatherbacks are under so much duress on the island:
- pigs and dogs sniff out turtle eggs on nesting beaches and devour them
- rising sand temperatures either kill the eggs or produce female hatchlings exclusively
- adults get caught by fisheries during their migration
- islanders harvest both adults and their eggs for food
If the trend continues, these leatherbacks will likely become extinct. Their numbers will be far too low to bounce back.
This would be devastating to the leatherback sea turtle species! They’ve existed before the T-rex roamed the Earth. This issue, is not a West Coast issue. It’s an international issue. Leatherbacks migrate through 20 countries’ territories.
It’s up to all of us to make a difference.