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Pacific Leatherback Activities. About these Activities Developed by Dr. Simona Bartl – Director, Teaching Enhancement Program at Moss Landing Marine Labs.

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Presentation on theme: "Pacific Leatherback Activities. About these Activities Developed by Dr. Simona Bartl – Director, Teaching Enhancement Program at Moss Landing Marine Labs."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pacific Leatherback Activities

2 About these Activities Developed by Dr. Simona Bartl – Director, Teaching Enhancement Program at Moss Landing Marine Labs – Education Seat, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council With assistance from – Scott Benson, Marine Turtle Ecology and Assessment Program, NOAA Fisheries Service – Deasy Lontoh, Graduate Student, Moss Landing Marine Labs – Rachel Kippen, Program Director, Saves Our Shores, Santa Cruz – Ashley Blacow, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager, and Malcolm Johnson, Summer Fellow, Oceana, Monterey Based on activities by and with permission from: – Zander Srodes - srodes

3 The Pacific leatherback sea turtle has been swimming the worlds oceans for over 70 million years. They are the largest of six sea turtle species that use U.S. ocean waters. Like their name, leatherbacks have a soft, leathery shell. These amazing sea turtles are capable of diving in cold, deep water. Female Pacific leatherback sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of western Pacific island nations, including Papua Barat, Indonesia and when some of the hatchings become adults, they swim all the way to waters off California to feed on their favorite snack…sea nettle jellies.


5 Several months prior to the nesting season, female turtles migrate to tropical warm sandy beaches. The females come ashore at night within a few weeks of mating. Once a good location is found, the female turtle begins to carefully dig a hole with her rear flippers. She deposits soft-shelled eggs inside before refilling the hole with sand to cover the eggs and hide them from predators. Then she returns to the sea and will be far away when her babies hatch. After days in the warm sand, hatchlings begin to emerge from the eggs and crawl out of the nest. They move toward the sea and into the water during the night to avoid hungry crabs and birds. Once in the water, the hatchlings swim directly away from the beach for several days. After thisswimming frenzy, the little turtles are transported by strong ocean currents to various areas of the open ocean. The lucky ones find food and grow quickly. They remain in warmer waters until they are large enough to stay warm. Then they head into cooler waters that contain more food. After years, the turtles become very large adults weighing over 1000 pounds. The adult turtles eventually migrate back to the warmer waters near nesting beaches, and the females return to the same beach from which they emerged as hatchlings long ago to lay eggs and create new hatchlings. Leatherback life cycle


7 Threats to Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles Pacific leatherback sea turtles play an important role in maintaining a healthy marine food web. They are the top jelly predator. As their population declines, so does their ability to perform vital roles in maintaining healthy oceans. Some commercial fishing nets, pollution, and climate change are among the greatest threats to Pacific leatherbacks. Drift gill nets are non-selective and catch leatherbacks, preventing safe passage from nesting beaches to foraging grounds. Leatherbacks easily mistake plastic bags swirling in the water for jellies and once swallowed the turtles can starve or suffocate. Climate change is expected to worsen the stresses that sea turtles already face by affecting nesting beaches and migration routes. How long does a person use a plastic grocery bag on average? ____________ How long does it take a plastic bag to degrade once it is in the ocean? ____________ How much plastic waste ends up in the world's oceans every day? ___________ Does most of the plastic that enters the ocean come from land or from boats? __________ Draw a bag in this circle Draw a jelly in this circle

8 Know what is happening to Pacific leatherback sea turtles and share that with your friends and family. Reduce your use of all single use plastic like plastic shopping bags. Pick up trash at the beach so it doesn't get into the ocean. Eat sustainable seafood that is caught in ways that don't harm turtles (lists available from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute). Use less energy and carpool to reduce your contribution to climate change. Learn more about the many groups of people that are working to protect sea turtles and help support their efforts.

9 Size comparison Draw a standing adult human here: Draw the number of adult humans that would weigh the same here: Average adult turtle

10 3* 1* 2* 4* 5* 1* *2 3* 4* 6* ESTER: Sep 07 - Jun 08 MARIAM: Sep 07 - Jul 08 5* 6* 7* 8* 9* 10* 11* 8* 9* 10*

11 Leatherback Survival Game The teacher hands out items lettered A-Z to each student or student pair to create a nest of 7-10 'eggs' each representing 10 eggs. Items can be pieces of paper or round stickers or ping pong balls. Several A-Z sets will be needed. As the teacher reads the narrative in the notes, students will hand back or cross off eggs as a letter is called. The eggs left at the end represent the surviving turtles that will produce the next generation! The game can continue with the teacher moving on to the solutions narrative to give back some of the lost turtle eggs and show what aspects of turtle survival are within human control. To the right is a drawing of the green turtle life cycle. Students can submit drawings of this lifecycle with leatherbacks instead and one drawing will be used when this packet goes to Indonesian classrooms.

12 Success story: Atlantic green sea turtles were listed as endangered in They were threatened by egg collection, hunting, vandalism, disturbance while nesting, beach development, habitat loss, and sea level rise. Their critical habitat was defined in A recovery plan was made and followed in Between 1989 and 2011, their population in Florida grew by 2,206% and they have now achieved their population size recovery goal.

13 Success story: Atlantic leatherback sea turtle Color me! They declined due to habitat destruction, commercial fishery bycatch, harvest of eggs, hunting of adults, and loss of beach nesting habitat. They are still affected by these threats, and in some places by offshore oil drilling. Globally, leatherback sea turtles have been declining for decades. U.S. populations, however, have increased since being listed as endangered in Between 1989 and 2011, nests at important Florida beaches increased from 27 to 615.

14 Other Resources

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