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Study finds turtle populations on the rise

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / AUG. 2012

    Green sea turtles were seen feeding and frolicking at the ocean’s edge in 2012 in Pupukea. Sea turtle populations worldwide appear to be on the rise, indicating that conservation measures are working, according to a recent article published in “Science Advances.”

Sea turtle populations worldwide appear to be on the rise, indicating that conservation measures are working, according to a recent article published in “Science Advances.”

The article, published today, examined the population status of the seven species of sea turtles globally, including Hawaiian green sea turtles, through annual nesting numbers over time periods that ranged from six to 47 years. The authors found upward trends in the majority of nesting populations — for example, in 12 regional management areas for each species versus downward trends in five regional management areas.

“Positive trends in abundance are likely linked to the effective protection of eggs and nesting females, as well as reduced bycatch,” said the study’s abstract. “However, conservation concerns remain, such as the decline in leatherback turtles in the Eastern and Western Pacific.”

Of positive note, the study also cited an example of high growth rate among the number of green sea turtles nesting at French Frigate Shoals, which grew “by around an order of magnitude (approximately 200 to 2,000 nests) between 1973 and 2012.”

Hawaiian green sea turtles were listed as of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2012, reflecting a long-term increase in their population. Six other sea turtle species are currently listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

The study is available at advances.sciencemag.org.

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