13,000 miles in 647 days: The amazing journey of a sea turtle

A Leatherback Sea Turtle | Image: MSNBC 

13,000 miles: not only about 1/20 of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, but also the distance covered by a Leatherback Turtle in the Pacific Ocean, non-stop and completely unaided.

By attaching a radio tag to a female turtle scientists were able to track the turtle’s movements, and were surprised to discover that it made the trek from Indonesia to Oregon, and then back again to Hawaii, in a little under two years. In fact, it may even have gotten further, except that the battery ran out at Hawaii. Oops.

The Leatherback Sea Turtle measures 6ft in length | Image: National Geographic 13,000 miles is one of the longest ever known migrations of a marine vertebrate, and is indeed the longest turtle migration ever recorded. 13,000 miles may be dwarfed by the 40,000 miles the Sooty Shearwater, a seabird that flies from New Zealand to the North Pacific each year. But remember that birds have the advantage of air currents; turtles don’t. (Click here for a profile and pictures of the Leatherback Turtle)

Apart from simply amazing people with the extraordinary stamina of Leatherbacks, scientists want the media attention to draw attention to the very serious fact that only 5000 of these creatures remain. Because they go through so many different countries’ territory, it is difficult to protect them on every stage of their journey.

Please, get out there and do something about it. It doesn’t have to be big – just giving a small donation to a charity such as WWF will go a long way. Or why do some email advocacy? It would be awful if these stunning animals were lost forever because of us.

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