Increasing numbers of sea turtles are laying eggs on Japan’s beaches

Kyodo

Increasing numbers of marine turtles are laying eggs on Japanese beaches, the Environment Ministry said in a new report.

It shows a general rise since 2008 in egg-laying by three species — green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles — all of which are listed as endangered. The figures were compiled by the Sea Turtle Association of Japan.

The association’s head, Yoshimasa Matsuzawa, said the rise may be due to protections introduced in the 1970s. Those measures, he said, may have led to a decrease in the illegal poaching of eggs and helped to boost egg production by mature adults.

However, there has been a rise in eggs being eaten by raccoons and boars. The association has launched efforts to protect egg-laying grounds.

The association organized surveys with the help of volunteers of 41 known egg beaches across the country between fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2012.

The report said egg production has been increasing for all the three species, most markedly among loggerhead turtles: It records a 2.7-fold rise from 3,562 instances of egg-laying in 2004 to 9,661 in 2012.

Egg production by green turtles has been rising since 2010, while nine eggs of hawksbill turtles were confirmed in 2011, an increase compared to recent years.

Sea turtles take 30 to 40 years to mature. They lay eggs every two to four years.