SeaTurtles.org conducted a special expedition this month to the Cocos Island National Park of Costa Rica to continue its research and conservation efforts of sea turtles and sharks. Located 350 miles off the Pacific coast of Central America, Cocos Island is a cornerstone habitat area for endangered species in the eastern tropical Pacific. SeaTurtles.org tagged green sea turtles as well as hammerhead and black-tip reef sharks, and collected migration data from permanent electronic monitors installed on the seabed.
“Our objective is to
collect data to understand if the current no-fishing area is large
enough to protect these species, and if not, convince the Costa Rican
government to provide greater protections for this underwater gem and
the abundant marine biodiversity it supports,” said Todd Steiner, Executive Director at SeaTurtles.org. “The Cocos
preserve has overwhelming numbers of sharks, rays and tropical fish
species. It’s almost as if there is more sea life than sea water.” In
addition to its domestic designation as a national park, Cocos Island is
recognized by the United Nations as a “World Heritage Site” and a
The map below shows the satellite tracks of the most recent turtle we've tagged, Saxon, and below that, Alexandra II. Check back daily to track their progress! Click here to learn more about the next Cocos trip.
Saxon, Adult male Chelonia mydas tagged October 1, 2012
Alexandra II, adult female Chelonia mydas tagged September 27, 2012
The turtles released each carry a $5,000 transmitter that weighs
mere ounces—but that allows STRP researchers to track the animals in
real-time using satellite telemetry.
“By comparison with the rest of the ocean,
Cocos offers a refuge of sorts, but it’s not inviolate,” notes Steiner.
“On every trip we see and often pull up miles of monofilament fishing
line, dozens of float buoys and often the heavy hooks used by longline
fleets. On a recent expedition, we actually photographed a green sea
turtle that had a longline hook still embedded in its mouth.”
This was the organization's tenth such expedition since 2009. For more information about sea turtle restoration efforts, satellite tracking of Pacific turtles or attending a Cocos Island expedition as a research assistant, please contact the Sea Turtle Restoration Project at (415) 663-8590.