On January 15-18, 2005, Sea Turtle Conservancy and the St Catherines Island Foundation brought together a group of 18 leading experts on leatherback research and conservation from ten countries to discuss Atlantic leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea. The Retreat was held at the incomparable location of St Catherines Island in Georgia, USA.
The meeting was a huge success and we believe that the Retreat will lead to increased conservation and research focus on Atlantic leatherback turtles as well as contribute to expanded collaboration between researchers and conservationists.
The leatherback turtle 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 Ocean are thought to include incidental capture in fisheries and egg collection on nesting beaches. Satellite telemetry of leatherback turtles in the Atlantic Ocean has shown wide-ranging migrations into areas with commercial fishing activities. In addition, egg collection and the killing of nesting females persists on many nesting beaches in the Atlantic.
Given the wide distribution of leatherback turtles and potential survival threats in the Atlantic Ocean region, it is paramount to identify research and conservation priorities to avoid a repeat of the decline observed for Pacific leatherback turtles. In order to identify priorities, the Atlantic Leatherback Strategy Retreat, attended by a select group of researchers and conservation managers working with leatherback turtles and related issues, worked to identify leatherback conservation and research priorities in the Atlantic.
On this site you can read all about the Retreat and learn about the results and recommendations agreed upon by the distinguished meeting participants.
The Retreat was organized by the St Catherines Island Foundation and Caribbean Conservation Corporation. Additional support provided by the Ocean Foundation, Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and the Winn Foundation.