The Incredible Leatherback Turtle Journey
Tracking the leatherback turtle journey through the Pacific took Scott Benson of the US National Marine Fisheries Services all the way from the US to Indonesia. That's a long trip, but the leatherbacks make such journeys all the time. The tracking shows just how far.
The leatherback turtle swims all over the Pacific Ocean hunting jellyfish for food. The ones Scott Benson and his team tracked begin the journey on a beach near Jamursba-Medi, Papua Barat, Indonesia. The mother comes ashore at night to lay her eggs. The males live their whole lives in the sea.
A team of people who care about leatherback turtles go out onto the beaches in the dark to put a satellite tracking device on some of those female turtles and use the information to learn about where a leatherback goes.
On July 20, 2003, one leatherback turtle journey began after the lady laid her eggs in the sand on the beach, returned to the water, and swam away.
She roamed the deep ocean, coming near Oregon in the US and back toward Hawaii. The battery on her tracking device ran out after 647 days. She had logged 20,000 kilometers (13,000 miles), the longest recorded leatherback turtle journey. That's about one half the distance around the earth at the equator.
Leatherbacks are the largest and most endangered sea turtles. The research of the National Marine Fisheries Service and others will help us to understand these turtles better. Then we can do more to protect them.
Download a coloring picture of a leatherback turtle
Keep it slow and steady.