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3 Aug 06
Rare turtle to get satellite tag
The migration of a rare turtle across the Indian Ocean is to be monitored by satellite tagging.
The hawksbill turtle has suffered from poaching, fishing and loss of habitat, and is now critically endangered. Research has revealed that females return to the same beach to lay eggs up to eight times in one season.
Scientists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are hoping to find out where the turtles go the rest of the year to aid conservation efforts. Visitors to ZSL's website will be able to monitor the progress of several turtles on their long journeys across the Indian Ocean.
The society's marine turtle project was set up three years ago to protect nests in remote areas of northern Mozambique. Nests are often raided for eggs, which are considered a delicacy by some, and the turtle is also hunted for its prized shiny shell.
A local team working for ZSL has already recorded and protected more than 300 nests of hawksbill and green turtles. The project's next step is to fit state-of-the-art satellite tags to the shells of a small number of female hawksbills - two or three initially - to see where they go when they leave the beaches.
"They are a critically endangered species - there is only a small population left - so it is imperative to try and protect the nesting areas as best as possible," ZSL's aquatic conservation manager Alison Shaw told BBC News.
"By understanding the population dynamics, we will be able to work with partners to develop regional strategies to protect them."
In a separate research effort, scientists are to take small samples of skin from the forelimbs of turtles for genetic analysis. They hope to build up a better understanding of the relationship between different turtle populations and migratory routes.
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