The 'Great Turtle Race'

Biologists from Costa Rica and the United States have joined forces to track the annual migration of the world’s rarest turtles, in an attempt to find out why their numbers have dropped so dramatically in the last decade.

深圳桑拿网

Biologists have attached satellite transmitters to eleven of the turtles as they migrate from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands.

Sponsored by US and Costa Rican environmental groups and businesses, the race that can be monitored online aims to raise awareness of the endangered species.

Environmentalists say 90 per cent of the leatherbacks have vanished and the species may disappear within 10 years due to illegal poaching of their eggs along Latin American coasts, ocean contamination and development near their nesting grounds.

Internet users can log on to 深圳桑拿网,greatturtlerace深圳桑拿网会所,, read about the turtles and then track them over the next two weeks along their natural migration to the islands off the Ecuadorean coast.

The website features virtual trading cards with caricatures of the turtles as well as stats on their egg-laying history. With names like Freedom, Windy and Stephanie Colburtle – after American TV comedian Stephen Colbert – the leatherbacks will cover 2,000 kilometres to the Galapagos, where they feed on jellyfish.

Reaching more than 1.8 metres and weighing as much as 900 kilograms, the leatherbacks are the world's largest turtles and range throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans from Alaska as far south as the Cape of Good Hope.

Scores migrate to Playa Grande to lay their eggs each year, but

Las Baulas Marine Park officials said only 58 female leatherbacks arrived this year, down from 124 in 2006.

Scientists estimate that worldwide, the female population has fallen from an estimated 115,000 in 1980 to fewer than 43,000 today. Besides various threats to their habitat, the leatherback population is threatened by floating plastic bags or sheets which they mistake for jellyfish – a staple of their diet.

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