From: Dr. Brendan Godley, University of Exeterin Cornwall
Published September 24, 2004 10:30 AM

Tracking "Montserrat" The Marine Turtle By Satellite


(UK, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat)


Montserrat, 23rd September 2004. Ground-breaking work to investigate the migratory movements of marine turtles1 in the UK Overseas Territories began on the Caribbean Emerald Isle of Montserrat this week. Staff from Government of Montserrat (GoM) attached a satellite transmitter to Montserrat, a 150kg green turtle, which will enable her migratory movements to be logged from space and followed live on the internet at http://seaturtle.org/tracking/ Since leaving Montserrat's shores she has already passed through the waters of St Kitts and Nevis but where will she stop? Attractive colour photos of the attachment and release are available. In addition a map of the route is available for publication.


The satellite tracking is part of a 2-year UK Government funded OTEP3 project spearheaded by staff from the University of Exeter in Cornwall's, Marine Turtle Research Group4 in association with the UK's Marine Conservation Society. The project involves a coalition of organisations in Anguilla, Ascension Island, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands and aims to continue to build upon existing capacity for management of marine turtles and their habitats. In tandem with these efforts, extensive awareness raising activities will be undertaken. The project is given IT backup by the online US based NGO SEATURTLE.ORG


We have been working for over 20 years to find out about the turtles nesting on our shores but this is the first time we have been able to gain insights as to where turtles nesting in Montserrat might live. It is most exciting. said Mr. John Jeffers of Montserrat's Department of Fisheries and long term co-ordinator of the sea turtle monitoring project.


Through this project we will start to chip away at some of the great unknowns in the biology of marine turtles in each of the UK Overseas Territories but, perhaps more importantly, we hope to raise awareness as to how, given their migratory nature, regional approaches to their conservation must be taken said Dr Brendan Godley of the Marine Turtle Research Group. In addition, in global terms the vast majority of the biodiversity of the UK and its Territories is contained within the small and relatively under-resourced islands such as Montserrat. We hope to highlight this importance both to attract further conservation funding and lend support to the burgeoning ecotourism sector. Nature tourism holds tremendous potential as part of a stronger economic future in Montserrat as the island begin to return to normal following the cessation of volcanic eruptions.


The nesting turtle populations in Montserrat and the other UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean are critically small following hundreds of years of harvest, and finding out which nations share responsibility of nesting populations is a great start towards an integrated conservation strategy. said Peter Richardson, Species Policy Officer with MCS. We hope that the public both in Montserrat and further afield will log on to the tracking pages and we look forward to announcing the deployment of additional transmitters in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands over the next year Ends


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For further information and photographs:


In UK: Dr. Brendan Godley, University of Exeter in Cornwall
Tel: +44 1872 863 728
E-mail: bgodley@seaturtle.org
In Montserrat: Mr. John Jeffers, Government of Montserrat
Tel: +1 664 491 2075or 2076


Editor's notes:
1) The World Conservation Union (IUCN) recognizes seven species of marine turtle. The four species regularly found in Caribbean UK Overseas Territories are the hawksbill, green, leatherback and loggerhead turtles. IUCN list the hawksbill and leatherback turtles as critically endangered, whereas the green and loggerhead turtles are listed as endangered.
2) Montserrat is a UK Overseas Territory in the Eastern Caribbean, 25 miles SW of Antigua. Famous as an exclusive retreat of the rich and famous such as record producer Sir George Martin, a series of volcanic eruptions between 1995 and 1997 caused massive disruption to the island. There has been no volcanic activity since July 2003 and island life is returning to normal.
3) OTEP is the Overseas Territories Environment Programme administered by the UK Government (Department for International Development DfID and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office FCO)
4) The Marine Turtle Research Group (MTRG) is based at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter in Cornwall and carries out research and conservation projects regarding turtles in UK waters, Mediterranean and the British Overseas Territories. MTRG staff edit the international Marine Turtle Newsletter .
5) The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK Charity dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its wildlife. Since its formation in 1983 MCS has become a recognised authority on marine and coastal conservation and is currently joint lead partner on the Marine Turtle Grouped Species Action Plan for UK waters and the UK Overseas Territories.
6) SEATURTLE.ORG is Dedicated to providing online resources and solutions in support of sea turtle conservation and research and is incorporated in the State of Maryland and is registered as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization with the US Internal Revenue Service.


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