Ana’s journey opens mystery of ‘oceanic superhighway’



Posted on 19 December 2008  | 

The remarkable journey of a green turtle from Indonesia into Australian waters is helping conservationists to track the migratory route of this species to the Kimberley-Pilbara coast - one of the few relatively pristine coastal areas left on Earth.

Ana, a female green turtle, was tagged in Indonesia in November as part of a turtle tracking project by WWF and Udayana University in Bali, Indonesia, and has slowly made her way from a nesting beach in East Java, across the Indian Ocean, and is on track for the beaches of the Kimberley in Western Australia.

Her journey, monitored online by WWF, demonstrates the strong biological ties between Indonesia and the reefs on the west Australian coast.
 
“Ana’s journey is unique. She has revealed an ‘oceanic superhighway’ that helps us better understand how marine turtles navigate around the world’s oceans as well as highlighting the strong ecological and evolutionary connections between Indonesia and Australia’s Kimberley-Pilbara coast,” said Gilly Llewellyn, WWF Ocean’s Program Leader. 

“This new finding throws the spotlight on the true natural values of the magnificent Kimberley marine ecosystem and its link to the Coral Triangle to the north – the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity and the cross-roads of migration routes and breeding grounds for whales, turtles, dolphins and other precious marine species.”

The Coral Triangle spans Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste, and contains critical habitat for six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, including green, hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and flatback turtles.

All of these species are threatened with extinction as a result of pollution, long-line and trawl fishing that results in the accidental catch of marine turtles, and an illegal trade in turtle eggs, meat, shells and skin.  

“The tropical seas of the Coral Triangle have global significance. Decision makers need to keep this in mind when weighing up the need to protect it - and the millions of marine livelihoods that depend on coral reefs across the regions."

WWF’s Coral Triangle Program is currently working to ensure the health of the region's wildlife in the face of human threats in the Indian and Pacific oceans that include long-line and trawl fishing and pollution.

WWF’s marine conservation efforts in the region include the development of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to protect and conserve marine wildlife, and to ensure that all fishing is carried out in a sustainable manner. This includes reducing marine animal bycatch, specifically that of turtles, by fishing operations in the Indo Pacific.

“Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of marine turtles are caught annually in the hooks, lines and nets of fishing operations, while on land their nesting beaches are increasingly under threat from industrial development, human disturbance and climate change.

"Ana’s journey has shown us areas where we need to focus our efforts. We need to tap into the secret lives of species such as turtles, so we can design networks of marine protected areas that conserve the full range of plant and animal life, and ensure their longevity for years to come.”

For more information, contact:
Paula Schibeci, WWF Australia Press Office, 08 9442 1213, 0406 381 137
Dr Gilly Llewellyn, Marine Program Leader, WWF-Australia, 0406 380 801

The Green turtle is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters, but is under threat everywhere from over-harvesting and from accidental mortality in nets and long-lines of fishing fleets.
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen Freund Enlarge

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