• Kyodo

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A loggerhead turtle caught by fishermen off Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture, in March probably returned to Japan after making a circuit trip of the Pacific Ocean, according to researchers at a wildlife research institute here.

A loggerhead turtle, the first to be found alive after making a circuit of the Pacific Ocean, is displayed after being caught off Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture, in March.

If this is the case, the turtle is the first to be found alive following a journey of this kind, the researchers said.

The Sea Turtle Association of Japan said a tag on the turtle’s left front leg indicated it was caught and released off Hawaii by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in February 1995.

The turtle is thought to have traversed the Pacific Ocean and then swum back, with Japan being the only spawning ground for loggerhead sea turtles in the Northern Hemisphere, according to the institute.

Loggerhead turtles are believed to swim to the west coast of North America on the flow of the Black Current and, after maturing there, return to Japan.

Researchers said this is the first time a loggerhead turtle that has made the return journey has been found alive and that the discovery will help confirm the migration route of the turtles.

The turtle was netted March 15 by a fishing boat off the coast of Hyuga. It has a shell measuring 70 cm in length and is estimated to be 15 to 20 years old.

Returning loggerhead sea turtles of this kind have been found in several Japanese locations, including Tokushima, Kagoshima and Chiba prefectures, but all of them had died.

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