Atlantic Leatherback Strategy Retreat At St Catherines Island

Atlantic Leatherback Strategy Retreat At St Catherines Island

Sebastian Troëng1, Gale Bishop2, Milani Chaloupka3, Jean-Yves Georges4, Graeme Hays5, Rebecca Lewison6, Phillip Miller7, Felix Moncada8, and + 12 more authors9
1 Caribbean Conservation Corporation, San Jose, Costa Rica
2 South Dakota Museum of Geology, Rapid City, USA
3 Ecological Modelling Services, St Lucia, Australia
4 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Strasbourg, France
5 University of Wales, Swansea, UK
6 Duke University, Beaufort, USA
7 CID/Karumbé Project , Montevideo, Uruguay
8 Fisheries Research Center, Havanna, Cuba
9 +12 more affiliations

The leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea is classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Pacific populations have declined drastically during the last decades but the status of Atlantic leatherback populations is less well known. Major reasons for the observed decline in the Pacific are thought to include incidental capture in fisheries and egg collection on nesting beaches.

Satellite telemetry of leatherback turtles in the Atlantic has shown wide-ranging migrations into areas with commercial fishing activities. Also, egg collection persists on many nesting beaches in the Atlantic. Given the wide distribution of leatherback turtles and potential survival threats in the Atlantic, it is paramount to identify research and conservation priorities to avoid a repeat of the decline observed for Pacific leatherback turtles. For this reason, the Atlantic Leatherback Strategy Retreat, attended by a select group of 20 researchers and conservation managers working with leatherback turtles and related issues in the Atlantic met at St Catherines Island, Georgia, USA, January 15-18, 2004.

The objectives of the meeting were to: 1) Assess current level of knowledge about Atlantic leatherback turtles, 2) Identify five research and conservation priorities each (titled St Catherines Island Recommendations) for Atlantic leatherback nesting aggregations and Atlantic leatherback marine habitat use and fisheries interactions, and 3) suggest how participants in the International Sea Turtle Symposium may contribute to the implementation of the Atlantic leatherback turtle research and conservation priorities. This presentation summarizes the results of the Strategy Retreat.

Abstract of poster presented at 25th International Symposium, 2005