HALIFAX, Oct. 29, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Canadian Sea Turtle Network (CSTN) have launched the Great Canadian Turtle Race to help conserve the Endangered leatherback sea turtle and to ensure more Canadians to learn about this at-risk reptile and about marine conservation.
The leatherback sea turtle is officially recognized as an endangered species by Canada and on an international scale. At the recent International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) meeting in Jeju, Korea, members voted in favour of a motion to improve global conservation efforts in order to reverse the turtle survival crisis.
"Although leatherback sea turtles are large and charismatic marine organisms, like many marine wildlife species, they are often not widely recognized as a part of Canada's wildlife heritage," says Sean Brillant, Manager of Marine Programs at the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
It was only in the last decade that CSTN scientists, with support from CWF, identified how crucial Canada's Atlantic waters are for Atlantic leatherback populations. For ages, these giant reptiles have travelled to Atlantic Canada every summer to forage on abundant jellyfish in preparation for their journey to their southern nesting grounds. The challenge now is to ensure that more Canadians recognize these turtles as a part of Canada's wildlife and that we share responsibility for their conservation.
CWF and CSTN are hoping to improve this with the Great Canadian Turtle Race.
In May of 2011, CWF competed with dozens of other non-profit organizations for funding from the Shell Fuelling Change Program. With the help of our supporters, the Great Canadian Turtle Race was granted $100,000 of funding towards leatherback sea turtle conservation.
With this funding, scientists from the Canadian Sea Turtle Network attached satellite tags to ten female leatherback turtles off the coast of Nova Scotia during the summer of 2012. The tags will give scientists important knowledge about the behavior and location of the turtles as they make their way to their nesting grounds.
Canadians are encouraged to pick which turtle they think will reach the nesting beaches first and keep their eyes glued to TurtleRace.ca where they can track each of the turtles on our real time map! Those who pick the winning turtle (the female that reaches a nesting beach first), will be entered into a draw to win a trip to see leatherback sea turtles in their southern nesting grounds!
"This project is a chance to connect people with leatherback sea turtles," says Brillant. "And because they range so widely across different habitats in the ocean, they're a great way to introduce people to other marine species and to the effects we have on the marine environment."
About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information.
About the Canadian Sea Turtle Network:
The Canadian Sea Turtle Network is a charitable organization involving scientists, commercial fishermen, and coastal community members working to conserve endangered sea turtles in Canadian waters and worldwide.
SOURCE: CANADIAN WILDLIFE FEDERATION
For further information:
April Overall, CWF Communications,
(613) 599-9594 ext. 227
Kathleen Martin, Executive Director, Canadian Sea Turtle Network