Satellite-tagging has revealed that a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) swam a total distance of 20,558 kilometers (12,774 miles) over 647 days from Jamursba-Medi, Indonesia to the coast of Oregon. The results are published in The State of the World’s Sea Turtles magazine, a publication launched by Conservation International and the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group.
Scientists Dr. Peter Dutton and Scott Benson of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Creusa Hitipeuw of WWF-Indonesia report that the leatherback’s journey is the longest ever recorded for any ocean-going vertebrate. By comparison, the longest annual migration of any animal, terrestrial or marine, is the sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus). One individual was recorded flying nearly 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) between New Zealand and the North Pacific.
In this photo released by World Wildlife Fund, a leatherback turtle fitted with a satellite tracking device heads for the sea on July 25, 2003, on a remote beach in Indonesia’s Papua province.
“Understanding sea turtles’ and other marine animals’ movements in this way is critical to ensuring their protection. Ocean-going animals often pass through multiple nations’ territories and international waters as they migrate, making their survival the responsibility of not just one nation but many.”
The State of the World’s Sea Turtles was released at the 8th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, being held in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico from January 19-26.