Friday, February 8, 2008

Turtle takes record-setting voyage

Agencies in Bangkok and Portland

The Guardian

It was a maritime adventure even Ellen Macarthur would be proud of. A leatherback turtle eager to discover more promising feeding ground across the Pacific has chalked up a new migration record after covering more than 12,000 miles in an epic journey, scientists said yesterday.

The creature travelled from a nesting beach in Jamursbamedi, eastern Indonesia, to the US Pacific north-west. The leatherback clocked up the longest recorded migration of any sea vertebrate.

Scott Benson, a researcher at the US National Marine Fisheries Service in California, tracked nine turtles using satellite transmitters. An adult female travelled the furthest. She began her journey in 2003 and was tracked for 647 days until the transmitter's battery ran out. During her travels she swam as far north as Oregon. Benson called for protection for the turtles which conservationists say could be extinct within 30 years.

"It doesn't recognize international boundaries. You can protect beaches but if you can't protect the animal in the water, you haven't done anything," he said.

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