ZSL pins hope (and a tracking device) to Claudia - the green sea turtle
Thursday 12 April 2007
A green sea turtle called Claudia was waved off on a very important journey across the high seas this week – with a top of the range satellite tag attached to her shell.
Conservationists from ZSL and the Maluane conservation project in Mozambique stood under a waning moon and bade farewell to Claudia – the first green sea turtle to be tracked across the Western Indian Ocean.
Claudia the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) will allow conservationists to see into her secret world, as she is followed by a satellite in space. It will be the first time a green sea turtle’s journey through the Western Indian Ocean is followed, and ZSL hopes that Claudia can help to unravel the mystery of these incredible animals’ lives as they cross the ocean. Conservationists had to wait until the moon’s effect on the sea tides was just right before attaching the equipment to her shell ready for her journey out to sea.
Claudia’s voyage from the beach in Mozambique will be followed using satellite technology that can detect exactly where she is each time she comes to the surface to breath and provide field workers with a real-time tracking map. Visitors to www.zsl.org/turtletracking will also be able to log in and watch where Claudia is off to next.
The tagging is vital to the future of this endangered species because conservationists have no idea where green turtles go once they have laid their eggs on the beach. It is only known that they emerge from the sea once every two or three years to lay eggs. They nest up to six times before disappearing again after 1 or 2 months. It is hoped that Claudia’s pioneering journey will raise enough funds that the joint ZSL-Maluane project will be able to buy more satellite tags so that Claudia can have companions.
ZSL Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme Manager Alison Shaw said: “We have worked hard to create protected habitats for these and other turtles on land, but for the successful conservation of this species we need to ensure that their underwater habitats aren’t destroyed. Once we know where they go we can analyse what kind of habitats need protecting or managing to safeguard future of green sea turtles.”
She added: “We really do have our hopes pinned on Claudia.”
In partnership with ZSL, Maluane has built on local knowledge to develop a team of turtle monitors from the coastal villages who have successfully protected and monitored more than 600 nests of green and hawksbill turtles over the last four years.
Maluane is an innovative community-based conservation programme that is working towards the protection of the exceptional coastal biodiversity in the northern Querimbas Archipelago on Vamizi and Rongui islands, using eco-tourism as an economic engine. The area harbours some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world which are also used as developmental grounds by turtles.
It is not really known where green sea turtles go when they leave the beach, but there is evidence that indicates these creatures spend substantial amounts of time crossing the open sea and can cover huge distances in reasonably good time.
All donations will be used by our turtle conservation team to help us understand how turtles use the coastal areas of Mozambique. Your money could fund:
£5 Electronic tags to identify the nesting turtles.
£10 turtle monitoring handbook.
£25 Analysis of a genetic sample.
£50 Salary of the turtle monitor for a month.
£75 resin to attach the satellite tag to the turtle.
£2,000 A student to participate in the Turtle conservation project.
£5,000 A satellite tag and satellite time.
Sponsor a tag and get to name the turtle.