Toggle Nav

Three South Pacific Nations Announce Plan to Protect World's Largest and Most Endangered Marine Turtle - the Pacific Leatherback

Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon's Islands announced an agreement on October 26 to jointly develop a plan to protect Western Pacific Leatherback turtles, which migrate thousands of miles to feed in the waters off California. They announced their intention to protect turtle nesting grounds and migratory routes during the Pacific Islands Forum Meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on October 26. World Wildlife Fund played a crucial role in this development and the conservation groups marine turtle experts can discuss its implications for the future of the species. Pacific Leatherback turtles are critically endangered due to domestic and commercial exploitation of their eggs; development and destruction of nesting beaches; accidental capture and drowning in fishing nets and long-lines; ocean pollution and ingestion of plastic and other garbage. As few as 2,300 adult females now remain, making them the most endangered marine turtle species. If their nesting grounds and migratory routes are not protected, they could disappear from the waters off California. Leatherbacks, whose ancestors can be traced back to prehistoric times, can dive as deep as deep as 4,000 feet, grow to as much as eight feet in length, weigh up to 2,000 pounds and live as long as 70 years. Agreement between the three countries is crucial for the protection of these ancient ocean voyagers. Working with conservation and research agencies such as World Wildlife Fund, the governments will develop a detailed plan to protect their nesting sites, map out migratory routes and address the issues that threaten them with extinction. The announcement was made October 26 in Papua New Guinea. Kimberly Davis and Liz Wilson are available for interviews via phone all week. Kimberly Davis is based in Washington and travels frequently to work on protecting marine turtles. Liz Wilson is available via telephone from Papua New Guinea where she is attending the Pacific Islands Forum