Leatherback turtle makes longest migration of any ocean-going vertebrate

Date: 1/2/2008

What is one of the longest recorded migrations of any vertebrate, a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) that was satellite-tagged in Jamursba-Medi, Indonesia, has swum across the Pacific to the coast of Oregon, USA—a total distance of 20,558 kilometres (12,774 miles) over 647 days. Scientists Dr Peter Dutton and Scott Benson of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southwest Fisheries Science Centre and Creusa Hitipeuw of WWF-Indonesia presented a report about this important journey.  Compared to this leatherback, the longest measured annual migration of any animal, terrestrial or marine is the sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) of nearly 64,000 kilometres (approx 40,000 miles) between New Zealand and the North Pacific. Of vertebrates that travel through the ocean, this leatherback’s journey is the longest ever recorded. Scott Benson said, ‘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.’



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