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No. 84, 14th June 2013

Israel: Light Pollution Deters Nesting Sea Turtles

SOURCE: – DATE: 7th June, 2013

Light pollution along the Mediterranean is changing the nesting habits of sea turtles in Israel, according to new research. The study surveyed two species of sea turtles, the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), both nocturnal nesters. In general, female sea turtles nest on beaches and they return to the same nesting beaches where they were born, often within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of their hatching site. They generally move to the beach at night, dig and deposit a clutch of anywhere between 40 and 200 eggs into the sand, then cover it and leaves it behind. The hatchlings, when they emerge two months later during the night in order to avoid predators, are particularly vulnerable to night lights. "During this process of finding the sea, the hatchlings are vulnerable to disorientation by artificial lighting and so some of them head the wrong direction (for example) towards roads. Others can be predated by foxes, dogs, birds," lead researcher Tessa Mazor, a PhD. Candidate at the University of Queensland said. After taking into account how the beaches are geologically structured, and the impacts of human activity, the study still found a significant relationship between night light intensity and nesting. Turtles preferred nesting in the darker regions. The results could be applied to other Mediterranean locations due to the high intensity of coastal activities, but also have applicability worldwide. The researchers suggested the results of the study could aid in conservation efforts by guiding authorities to create reserves in darker areas along the coastline, perhaps by taking steps like restricting lighting after certain hours. Most sea turtles are endangered worldwide due to human fishing activities (they often get accidentally caught in nets and drown before they can be released) as well as growth in coastal populations and tourist activities along coastlines.

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© Yaniv Levy

Plastic Bags are dangerous prey for sea turtles

DATE: 12th June, 2013

Plastic bags in the ocean can look just like a jellyfish or other gelatinous creature, fooling loggerhead turtles into hunting them. This case of mistaken identity, documented in the latest issue of the journal PLoS ONE, reveals how our garbage can hurt marine wildlife. Even if a turtle doesn't ingest the bag, the effort to explore and grab it wastes the turtle's energy and time. Tomoko Narazaki and colleagues from the University of Tokyo outfitted loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) with 3D loggers and crittercams , which enabled the scientists to record all of the turtle action as the animals swam in open water. Narazaki and his team discovered that the turtles rely on sight, rather than on sound or smell, to find and move toward gelatinous prey, such as jellyfish and other organisms. That's bad news for the turtles, because a plastic bag looks just like a jellyfish when the bags are submerged in water. The discovery also suggests that loggerhead turtles may rely on jellyfish and similarly textured prey for food, which are easy to digest, more than was previously theorized. Because these squishy organisms aren't exactly jam packed with nutrients, they serve more as a snack for the turtles. But the turtles seem to go after them quite often during their swimming trips, and particularly during oceanic migrations. Loggerhead turtles are endangered. We can help by choosing reusable cloth or other natural material bags instead of plastic.

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3. Botswana: Shell-shocked! The moment a puzzled lion cub tries to eat a tortoise and is left with a bad taste in his mouth…

DATE: 10th June, 2013

A lion cub at the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana was spotted trying to tuck in to a leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis), but found the shell was a tough nut to crack. The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world so the lion was certainly taking on a mouthful. But even its ferocious fangs weren't powerful enough to pierce its victim's armour.Even though the big cat had a firm grip on the tortoise, its intended prey wasn't going to give up without a fight. 'After it urinated in its mouth, the lion left the tortoise upside down,' said Mr Steyn, a photographer that witnessed this unusual encounter. 'We rushed over and turned it up right after the cub moved away.'

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4. Limón – Costa Rica: $10,000 Reward Offered by Conservation Groups for Information on  
Murdered Sea Turtle Activist in Costa Rica

Follow up Bulletin No. 83, 7th June, 2013

SOURCE: – DATE: 3rd June, 2013

Conservation groups announced on the 3rd of June 2013 a $10,000 reward for information on the brutal killing of Jairo Mora Sandoval, a sea turtle activist working to protect nesting sea turtles on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast near Limón. According to media reports, the 26-year-old conservationist was kidnapped by armed men on Thursday; his body was found a day later.
Environmental organizations around the world are calling for justice and today announced the Jairo Mora Sandoval Reward Fund for information leading to arrest and conviction of those responsible. Mora was on sea turtle patrol with four foreign volunteers when he was ambushed by at least five masked men. The four women were also abducted in the attack, but survived. Mora was bound, badly beaten, and shot in the head. Mora worked as a beach monitor for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network , which h as seen an increase in sea turtle poaching. In fact, the night of the abduction, there was an intensified police and Coast Guard presence in response to the rise in poaching. As a result of Mora's murder, WIDECAST has closed its sea turtle monitoring program. Poaching, the illegal killing of sea turtles and taking their eggs, is a leading factor driving sea turtles toward extinction. As a result, sea turtles, including the leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) that nest on the beach Mora monitored, are protected by several laws, including Costa Rica's Marine Turtle Population Law of 2002 and the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Sea turtle monitoring gives these ancient creatures a fighting chance at survival.

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