NYK Sponsors Sea Turtle Research

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

August 16, 2019

Participants. Photo: NYK

Participants. Photo: NYK

Japanese shipping giant Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) said that it has started a new approach to track loggerhead sea turtles (listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) in the Kishu Minabe Sea Turtle Research Project sponsored by NYK and conducted by the NPO Earthwatch Japan.

Earthwatch, a non-profit organization established in 1971 in Boston, is an international nongovernmental organization. It provides researchers with both human and financial support for overseas field research and surveys.

"This research project is conducted at Minabecho in Wakayama prefecture, which is where most loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs on the main island of Japan. The number of eggs spawned in one’s lifetime is counted with the aim of studying the sea turtle’s behavior patterns and keeping the turtles free of danger," said a release from NYK.

A total of 24 NYK Group employees and citizen volunteers participated in the research, which was divided into two sessions, one conducted on July 4–6 and another on July 11–13. The volunteers patrolled the beach at nighttime, helped attach identification tags to the turtles, and recorded and measured their shell lengths and widths as the turtles crossed the sandy beach to nest. This year is the fourth time since 2016 that NYK has sponsored this activity.

As a new approach, two loggerhead sea turtles were equipped with an Argos GPS beacon for tracking, especially their coastal movement during spawning. The two loggerhead sea turtles have been named “Umi-chan” and “Hana-chan,” and their locations are provided on the in-house portal site along with comments by the project's chief researcher, Yoshimasa Matsuzawa, chairman of the Sea Turtle Association of Japan. The site helps NYK Group employees deepen their interest in the marine environment.

During the period of spawning, Umi-chan and Hana-chan didn’t move so much, but after finishing the final spawn, Hana-chan immediately started leaving for the East China Sea, the main feeding area for loggerhead sea turtles. On the other hand, Umi-chan remained in the sea area around the spawning site. When Umi-chan starts moving now needs to be given attention.

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