Protecting migratory sea turtles, on a budget

Finding the best value migration information for conserving sea turtles

Sea turtles must swim thousands of kilometres to survive, but to track the path of just one sea turtle can cost $5,000. Such information is critical for identifying the habitats we need to protect for turtle conservation. So how can we get the biggest bang for our buck when we try to protect sea turtles and their habitats?

Tessa Mazor  (CSIRO) and colleagues developed a way to choose the best areas for conserving sea turtles, combining all available information about their habitats, and testing how many satellite tracks are actually needed.

They found there is no need to track every individual sea turtle. For example, their work on threatened loggerhead turtles migrating across the Mediterranean found that five tracks were enough to identify areas for sea turtle protection. For every region there is an optimal number of tracks to make a conservation plan that results in good outcomes—and can also save money.

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