Turtle Haven

January 25, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©Angela Formia/WCS

The coast of Gabon is a great place for turtles. Situated along Africa's western edge, it's home to the largest nesting population of leatherback sea turtles in the world, the largest nesting population in the Atlantic of olive ridley sea turtles, and foraging populations of green turtles and hawksbills, which are regionally important.

Why is it such a turtle paradise? We put the question to WCS conservationist Dr. Angela Formia, coordinator of the Gabon Sea Turtle Partnership.

"It is actually quite difficult to know what characteristics make a suitable nesting beach," she said. "But, generally, Gabon's coastline is remote and inaccessible, with low population density and development. So it has mostly been free from intensive nest poaching. And in the last decade, national parks have been established that protect approximately 80% of the nesting."

There are still threats, of course. Formia says the current focus is primarily at sea, where sea turtles face myriad risks, including from fisheries, pollution, and boat traffic.

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