Leatherbacks make a comeback thanks to Canadian support.What does turtle conservation by coastal communities in the Solomon Islands Solomon Islands, independent Commonwealth nation (2005 est. pop. 538,000), c.15,500 sq mi (40,150 sq km), SW Pacific, E of New Guinea. The islands that constitute the nation of the Solomon Islands—Guadalcanal, Malaita, New Georgia, the Santa Cruz Islands, have to do with Canada? Surprisingly, there are several connections, most involving the critically endangered Pacific leatherback leatherback, marine turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters around the world. The largest of all turtles, it may reach a length of 7 1-2 ft (230 cm) and weigh 1200 lb (540 kg). turtles.
These huge reptiles that lumber up the black sand, wave-swept beaches of isolated communities in the Solomons from November to January each year are the same ones that travel huge distances to feed off the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific coast of North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. . In fact, recent research using satellite tagging shows the turtles that nest on the western Pacific beaches in Indonesia, West Papua, Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (păp`ə, –y and the Solomon Islands make long migrations to the California area, and probably also move up the coast to B.C. and even Alaska to forage for food.
Pacific leatherbacks are among the most critically endangered species Organisms with a conservation status of critically endangered have an extremely high risk of becoming extinct. IUCN Category
The World Conservation Union (IUCN), widely considered to be the most objective and authoritative system for classifying species in terms of the on the planet--at severe risk because of their entrapment entrapment, in law, the instigation of a crime in the attempt to obtain cause for a criminal prosecution. Situations in which a government operative merely provides the occasion for the commission of a criminal act (e.g. in fishing nets, the over harvesting of turtle eggs and meat, and their consumption of plastics in the ocean, which resemble jellyfish jellyfish, common name for the free-swimming stage (see polyp and medusa), of certain invertebrate animals of the phylum Cnidaria (the coelenterates). The body of a jellyfish is shaped like a bell or umbrella, with a clear, jellylike material filling most of the , their favourite food. They have been with us since the age of the dinosaur; but now environmentalists and scientists are ringing alarm bells, predicting their total extinction within a decade. Indeed, Malaysia, home to one of the largest nesting beaches in the world, has seen the number of nesting females drop from more than 2,000 in the 1960s to only one or two today. Similarly drastic declines are being reported from the Pacific coast beaches of Mexico and Costa Rica.
This decline has led both Canada and the US to develop species survival strategies for leatherbacks, with a focus on conservation efforts in the western Pacific key among them.
And this is where the Canadian connection comes in. The Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development Program, with money from the Canadian International Development Agency The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is a Canadian government agency which administers foreign aid programs in developing countries. CIDA operates in partnership with other Canadian organizations in the public and private sectors as well as other , has been supporting and encouraging various turtle conservation efforts around the Pacific through the South Pacific Regional Environmental Agency since the 1990s. In PNG (Portable Network Graphics) A bitmapped graphics file format endorsed by the World Wide Web Consortium. It is expected to eventually replace the GIF format, because there are lingering legal problems with GIFs. , the Solomons, and Vanuatu, researchers, NGOs, and local communities are surveying nesting beaches, educating communities on conservation, and monitoring turtle nesting. In the Solomon Islands, this work has shown that nesting beaches are much more important than previously assumed. Researchers identified more than 60 nesting beaches, with about 10 that host more than 50 nests each year. Canada has also helped to train village turtle monitors who document the numbers of turtles nesting, and their hatchings, while also educating community members in conservation approaches.
And that brings us to the people of Baniata, Rendova Island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. Unaware of these global concerns for the large black turtles, Solomon Islanders have for centuries considered turtles an important food source, eating about ten each year and collecting most of the eggs. The residents of Baniata are the descendents of those who used to live on Tetepare Island, the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific and one of the last remaining relatively intact terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the region. Since 1996, a local NGO NGO
Noun 1. NGO - an organization that is not part of the local or state or federal government
nongovernmental organization has been working with the descendants of Tetepare to protect the island from logging, developing a resource and wildlife management program to protect its many species of wildlife and marine life, including three species of turtles.
Here we find another Canadian connection: two Canadians have been placed by CUSO CUSO Credit Union Service Organization
CUSO Canadian University Services Overseas
CUSO Canadian University Services Organization
CUSO Carson United Soccer Organization , a Canadian international development organization, to work on a very unique conservation project in Western Province, adjacent to Baniata. David Augement and Laurie Wein, wildlife biologists from Alberta, are now in their first year of training and programming with the Tetepare Descendants Association. TDA TDA Texas Department of Agriculture
TDA Trade and Development Agency
TDA Transportation Development Act
TDA Tax Deferred Annuity (commonly known as TSA)
TDA Tienda (Spanish: store) began a turtle-monitoring project in 2002, both on Tetepare Island and on Rendova, focusing on conservation i awareness and education training, and hiring turtle monitors to discourage the harvesting of leatherback turtles and eggs and to promote hatchling survival. On Tetepare, the turtle-monitoring project focuses on counting and protecting turtle nests.
As a result of this intensive monitoring intensive monitoring Intensive care The continuous monitoring of Pt vital signs, with electronic hookups to the nursing station; IM encompasses real time measurement of BP and ABGs via arterial lines, pulse oximetry, continuous cardiac monitoring, respiration, and protection program, the leatherbacks have begun to return and villagers have recorded hatchling leatherbacks. The turtle monitoring has also identified other i threats to turtle nesting, primarily a local predator--the monitor lizard--and work is underway to increase survival rates for the leatherback hatchlings.
Canada, through CUSO and C-SPOD, will continue to look for ways to support this important ecological program, even after the C-SPOD program officially ends in December 2004. To that end, this tall in the Solomon Islands, C-SPOD brought together researchers, conservation groups, NGOs, and community representatives from across the region to focus on the plight of these turtles.
Meanwhile the residents of Baniata and the Tetepare Decendants Association are watching over the rare leatherback turtles that come to their beaches, with the assistance of many concerned and committed individuals and organizations, among them a small group of Canadians who are doing what they can to ensure that these gentle and ancient creatures are with us for many more decades.