The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) has been involved in leatherback turtle research and conservation activities in the Western Pacific since 1999. Efforts have largely focused on nesting beach monitoring at Jamursba-Medi and Wermon in Papua Barat, Indonesia, and to varying degrees in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Given the decline in leatherback populations in the Pacific and the importance of Jamursba-Medi and Wermon in Papua Barat as the last remaining stronghold for leatherbacks in the Pacific, the SWFSC’s efforts are directed towards monitoring the status of the population through regular nest counts and tagging of females, boosting hatchling production and reducing direct take of eggs and turtles within and outside the established index beaches. We recognize the importance of building local scientific infrastructure and the need for community-based conservation and have made these fundamental elements of our collaborations with colleagues in Papua Barat. Virtually in every aspect of our research and conservation efforts, from aerial surveys to satellite telemetry, from tagging programs to hatching success research, from socio-economic studies to genetics and stable isotope analyses, the SWFSC has been instrumental in getting local biologists and community members involved. Our overarching goal is to increase their knowledge and understanding of leatherback biology, to empower them with the skills necessary to take responsibility for this population’s future, and to help them develop and implement conservation and management measures for the recovery of this population.
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