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Turtle Nesting Threatened By Logging Practices In Gabon, Smithsonian Warns

Date:
March 19, 2008
Source:
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Summary:
Endangered sea turtles are victims of sloppy logging practices in the west central African country Gabon, according to a new study. Sea turtle nesting attempts are impeded by lost or abandoned logs that accumulate along the country's coastal beaches. Logs are floated downriver from forests to coastal lumberyards in the Gabonese Republic, but some float out to sea and then wash ashore, where they form large tangles.
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The logs are lost during down-river transport to coastal shipping yards, and often end up washed up on beaches, where they create a barrier to nesting turtles.
Credit: Image courtesy of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Endangered sea turtles are victims of sloppy logging practices in the west central African country Gabon, according to a study led by William Laurance, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Sea turtle nesting attempts are impeded by lost or abandoned logs that accumulate along the country's coastal beaches. Logs are floated downriver from forests to coastal lumberyards in the Gabonese Republic, but some float out to sea and then wash ashore, where they form large tangles.

In an aerial survey, Laurance's team--co-coordinated by J. Michael Fay of the Wildlife Conservation Society--counted more than 11,000 logs along Gabon's beaches. In the most important area for turtle nesting, Pongara Beach, more than one-third of the beach was blocked by logs. In some places, scientists found up to 247 logs per kilometer of beach.

"It's really sad to see what the logs are doing to the turtles," Laurance said. "Sea turtles move very slowly on land. When a log blocks their path, sometimes they just give up and return to the sea. In other cases they lay their eggs too close to the waterline, where the eggs are killed by seawater. Turtles also become entangled among the logs and die."

The authors estimated that 8 to 14 percent of all turtle nesting attempts are thwarted by logs, sometimes with fatal results for the female. Most of the turtles nesting in this area are leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), a critically endangered species according to the IUCN Red Data Book.

"Survival of the leatherback turtle is threatened by fishing, environmental degradation and predation. It's really unfortunate that logging is a threat as well, because plans are afoot to dramatically increase the logging of African rainforests," said Laurance.

The study authors include scientists and staff from the Smithsonian Institution, the Wildlife Conservation Society in Gabon and Adventures Sans Frontiers in Gabon.

Journal reference: Laurance, WF (2008) Does Rainforest Logging Threaten Marine Turtles" Oryx 42(2), 1-6 doi: 10.1017/S003060530800


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Turtle Nesting Threatened By Logging Practices In Gabon, Smithsonian Warns." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080314160222.htm>.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. (2008, March 19). Turtle Nesting Threatened By Logging Practices In Gabon, Smithsonian Warns. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080314160222.htm
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Turtle Nesting Threatened By Logging Practices In Gabon, Smithsonian Warns." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080314160222.htm (accessed July 2, 2015).

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