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Pacific travelling sea turtle tracked to Kume Island

Date Posted: 2008-05-16

A green sea turtle on the endangered species list has surfaced in Okinawa waters off Kume Island after having dropped from sight a few months ago somewhere between the Philippines and Japan.

A satellite tracking the green sea turtle last picked up data signals from a small transmitter affixed to the turtleís leg in January, when it was near Kume Island, about 100 kilometers west of Naha. The turtle is on the endangered species list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora, and also on the 2006 Red List of endangered species maintained by the Environment Ministry.

The turtle was in waters off Guam last August, where it was tracked five times laying eggs on southern Guamanian beaches between April and August. The turtle was then tracked by satellite as it moved through Philippine waters before losing the signal. Officials say the sea turtle must be on the surface for at least ten seconds in order for the transmitter signal to be read by the satellite, but adds sea turtles donít often travel on the ocean surface. The female green sea turtle being tracked is about one meter long, with a brown colored back.

The Sea Turtle Association of Japan says the turtle is believed to be searching for seaweed for food, and is thought to be heading toward the Kyushu area, where it has laid eggs in the Ogasawara Islands and on islands south of Yakushima Island in the past.

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