A green sea turtle migrated more than 2,000 km from Guam to a remote island in the Okinawa chain, a sea turtle conservation group said Thursday.
Satellite-tracking data by the government of Guam show that the female green sea turtle reached waters around Kume Island, some 100 km west of Naha, in January, the Sea Turtle Association of Japan said.
It is first confirmation that a green sea turtle has migrated from Guam to Japan, the group said. The turtle was apparently searching for seaweed to feed on.
The association, based in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, said the Guam government attached a transmitter on the back of the turtle and began tracking it after it laid eggs on Guam’s southern beach on five occasions from April through August last year.
The turtle migrated toward the Philippines and then headed toward Japan.
The signal was lost Aug. 20 before being monitored again Jan. 21 near Kume Island. The signal has not been picked up again since then.
The association said tracking sea turtle movements by satellite is difficult because the transmitter needs to be on the surface for at least 10 seconds, and sea turtles rarely surface.
The female green sea turtle being tracked is about 1 meter in length with a brownish colored back. A metal marker is attached to one of its forefeet.
The association has asked divers and fishing groups to provide information if they spot it.
The green sea turtle is listed as an endangered species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or the Washington Treaty. It is also listed on the Environment Ministry’s 2006 Red List of endangered species.
Its range extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world. Its main nesting areas include beaches in Australia, Hawaii and Malaysia.
The turtle is known to lay eggs in the Ogasawara Islands and on the remote islands south of Yakushima Island off Kyushu.
Naoki Kamezaki, head of the association, said finding out the turtle’s path beyond Kume Island would provide valuable information on the species’ migratory patterns.
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