Leatherback turtle migration discoveries

This video is called Leatherbacks: Litoghahira, Solomon Islands.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Epic journeys of turtles revealed

January 5, 2011 02:09 AM

The epic ocean-spanning journeys of the gigantic leatherback turtle in the South Atlantic have been revealed for the first time thanks to groundbreaking research using satellite tracking.

Experts at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (Cornwall) at the University of Exeter led a five-year study to find out more about these increasingly rare creatures and inform conservation efforts.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B today [5th January 2011], has shed new light on the little-known migration behaviour of these animals – following their movement from the world’s largest breeding colony in Gabon, Central Africa, as they returned to feeding grounds across the South Atlantic.

The research has been carried out with the help of Parcs Gabon, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), PTMG (Marine Turtle Partnership for Gabon), the Trans-Atlantic Leatherback Conservation Initiative (TALCIN) – a multi-partner effort coordinated by WWF, and SEATURTLE.org.

Out of 25 females studied in the new research, three migratory routes were identified – including one 7,563km (4,699 mile) journey straight across the South Atlantic from Africa to South America.

Other routes still involved large distances, as they moved from Gabon to food-rich habitats in the southwest and southeast Atlantic and off the coast of Central Africa. They will stay in these areas for 2-5 years to build up the reserves to reproduce, when they will return to Gabon once again.

Dr Matthew Witt said: “Despite extensive research carried out on leatherbacks, no-one has really been sure about the journeys they take in the South Atlantic until now. What we’ve shown is that there are three clear migration routes as they head back to feeding grounds after breeding in Gabon, although the numbers adopting each strategy varied each year. We don’t know what influences that choice yet, but we do know these are truly remarkable journeys – with one female tracked for thousands of miles travelling in a straight line right across the Atlantic.”

In the Pacific ocean, leatherback turtles have seen a precipitous decline over the past three decades – with one nesting colony in Mexico declining from 70,000 in 1982 to just 250 by 1998-9*. The exact cause of the dramatic fall-off in numbers is not clear, but turtle egg harvesting, coastal gillnet fishing, and longline fishing have been identified as potential factors.

In the Atlantic, population levels have been more robust but, due to variations in numbers at nesting sites each year, it’s not clear whether they are in decline. Conservationists are keen to take action now to avoid a repeat of the Pacific story.

Dr Brendan Godley said the new research would be vital for informing this conservation strategy: “All of the routes we’ve identified take the leatherbacks through areas of high risk from fisheries, so there’s a very real danger to the Atlantic population. Knowing the routes has also helped us identify at least 11 nations who should be involved in conservation efforts, as well as those with long-distance fishing fleets. There’s a concern that the turtles we tracked spent a long time on the High Seas, where it’s very difficult to implement and manage conservation efforts, but hopefully this research will help inform future efforts to safeguard these fantastic creatures.”

Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ocean Giants Program, said: “This important work shows that protecting leatherback turtles—the ancient mariners of our oceans—requires research and conservation on important nesting beaches, foraging areas and important areas of the high seas. Armed with a better understanding of migration patterns and preferences for particular areas of the ocean, the conservation community can now work toward protecting leatherbacks at sea, which has been previously difficult.”

See also here.

Tagging and tracking leatherback sea turtles has produced new insights into the turtles’ behavior in a part of the South Pacific Ocean long considered an oceanic desert. The new data will help researchers predict the turtles’ movements in the ever-changing environment of the open ocean, with the goal of reducing the impact of fishing on the endangered leatherback population: here.

Sea turtles hatching in the USA: here.

January 20, 2011 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA) – Gulf of Mexico (GOM) – Two hundred forty-two cold-stunned sea turtles removed from St. Joseph Bay this winter were released Wednesday into the Gulf of Mexico off Cape San Blas in Gulf County. All were green turtles. Twenty-five Kemp’s ridleys, also rescued from the cold, will be released at a later date, along with green turtles that need additional rehabilitation: here.

The life and times of the Green Sea Turtle: here.

Sea turtle nesting in the U.S. is still a couple months away, but I just couldn’t wait to write something about my new RBFF (reptilian best friend forever) – the sea turtle: here.

Afghan CIA torture victim not buried yet

This video says about itself:

Being Innocent isn’t Enough, No Justice for CIA Torture Victim El-Masri

Being innocent is not enough to protect you from being tortured, not when you are dealing with a nation which does not uphold the rule of law.

And even if they know you are innocent, that’s not enough for them to stop violating your rights and release you.

But this is something I want to clarify, this video might lead you to believe he was released once they realized he was innocent but that ‘s not the case. When they realized he was innocent, they continued to imprison him THEN they dumped him on a back road at night in Albania. Mr. El-Masri’s unlawful detention and inhumane treatment continued for two additional months after they knew he was innocent.

CIA agents held him for at least several weeks after his release had been ordered. And the injustices didn’t end after he was released, he STILL can’t get justice. A Munich court had issued arrest warrants against the CIA agents for complicity in his kidnapping and torture but that was dropped. And thanks to Wikileaks we know why, the US government pressured Germany to drop the case, to not pursue justice , to not allow El-Maseri his day in court.

“… similarity of his name to that of Khalid al-Masri, an Al Qaeda agent linked to the Hamburg cell where the 9/11 attacks were plotted. Despite El-Masri’s protests that he was not al-Masri, he was beaten, stripped naked, shot full of drugs, given an enema and a diaper, and flown first to Baghdad and then to the notorious “salt pit,” the CIA’s secret interrogation facility in Afghanistan. At the salt pit, he was repeatedly beaten, drugged, and subjected to a strange food regime that he supposed was part of an experiment that his captors were performing on him. Throughout this time, El-Masri insisted that he had been falsely imprisoned, and the CIA slowly established that he was who he claimed to be. Over many further weeks of bickering over what to do, a number of CIA figures apparently argued that, though innocent, the best course was to continue to hold him incommunicado because he “knew too much.””

From Associated Press:

Victim’s family battles through Red Cross to get remains from CIA to bury in Islamic tradition


6:58 a.m. PST, January 5, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The family of Gul Rahman is still trying to recover his remains for burial, months after learning that he was stripped naked, doused in cold water and then left to die in a CIA-run Afghan prison known as the Salt Pit.

Suspected of links to al-Qaida, Rahman was picked up in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2002 from a home in Islamabad and taken with four other people to a CIA black site called the Salt Pit near the Kabul Airport.

Rahman died Nov. 20, 2002, but his identity was not known until revealed by an Associated Press investigation in March. Since then, appeals by his family — Afghan refugees living in Pakistan since the 1980s — for his remains have gone unanswered.

“It has been a mental torture for his family,” said Dr. Gharat Baheer, who was picked up with Gul Rahman. Baheer spent six months at the Salt Pit and six years in Afghan prisons before being released in 2008. Baheer said the family has yet to even receive confirmation of his death from the United States.

“His wife and his mother are in agony,” said Baheer. “They want to have a religious ceremony.”

Baheer, who spoke to the AP last week, is in regular touch with Rahman’s family, who he says are living in a refugee camp outside the Pakistani frontier city of Peshawar. Baheer said they fear that if they protest too loudly, the U.S. will press Pakistan to harass them or even expel them from the country.

Rahman’s brother, Habib Rahman, spoke to the AP in April, saying his family hopes U.S. authorities will return the remains. “We want them to let us give him a religious burial,” he said. Reached by the AP last week, he said he was too distraught to speak again.

The CIA on Monday declined to comment on the return of Rahman’s remains. The agency has said that its detention and interrogation program is over

yeah right. Really?

and it’s focused on preventing future terrorist attacks. An AP Freedom of Information Act request for Rahman’s autopsy report was rejected — a decision upheld on appeal by the Justice Department in November.

The Rahman family has sought the help of the International Committee for the Red Cross both in Peshawar and in Afghanistan.

“But the Red Cross isn’t able to get anything from the Americans,” Baheer said.

Baheer is the son-in-law of wanted militant Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose al-Qaida-allied group Hezb-e-Islami is battling U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

In the 1980s-1990s, Hezb-e-Islami were the main Afghan recipients of United States taxpayers’ dollars; doled out by the CIA.

Najum-ul-Saqib, the Red Cross communication officer in Pakistan, told AP on Tuesday that the Geneva-based organization has registered Rahman as a missing person and has sent out requests for more information. “Beyond that we are not authorized to say anything more,” said Saqib.

Gul Rahman’s name had not been previously known until the AP identified him as the detainee who had died at Salt Pit. Rahman was the only detainee known to have died in a CIA-run prison, and his death stands as a cautionary tale.

But Rahman never cracked under questioning, refusing to help the CIA find Hekmatyar. Former CIA officials described him as one of the toughest detainees to pass through the CIA’s network of secret prisons.

So far no CIA officer has been formally punished for the death of Rahman, who died of hypothermia. But federal prosecutors are re-examining his death, along with a small number of other cases involving CIA detainee abuses.

In March, the FBI rejected a Freedom of Information Act request the AP submitted for autopsy records in Rahman’s death, saying it was relevant to “a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding.”

The AP appealed, but the Justice Department upheld the decision in November because releasing the information “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.” The Justice Department added that disclosing the autopsy report could cause “foreseeable harm” to the ongoing investigation.

Baheer said Gul Rahman, in his early 30s, went by the nom de guerre Abdul Menan when he served as one of Hekmatyar’s elite guards. But when he was picked up in 2002, he had left Hekmatyar’s service and returned to his family at Shamshatoo refugee camp, near Peshawar, said Baheer.

At the Salt Pit, the code name for an abandoned brick factory that became a forerunner of a network of secret CIA-run prisons, Baheer said his own interrogation often consisted of being tied to a chair while his American interrogators, wearing masks, would sit on his stomach. For hours he would be left hanging, naked and shivering.

“They were very cruel.”


Goldman reported from Washington.

Censorship of anti-war art in Los Angeles, USA: here.

Pakistan’s Communist Party (CPP) condemned on Wednesday the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and alleged that “the iron mighty hands of the military establishment” were behind the crime: here.

Polish deer on ice floe saved

This is a video about a roe deer in Poland, which got stranded on an ice floe in the Baltic sea. Maybe it had fled there to escape from dogs; and then was unable to leave the floe. Firefighters with a boat managed to rescue the deer.

Roe deer in Dutch Nieuwkoop lakes area: here.

Female [fallow] deer do not always choose the bigger and dominant males to mate with, scientists from Queen Mary, University of London and Hartpury College have found: here.