PIFSC Scientists Collaborate with Colleagues in Japan on Sea Turtle Research

Pound net fishing off Muroto Point, Shikoku, Japan in November 2009.  Sea turtles are taken as part of 
             the bycatch.
Pound net fishing off Muroto Point, Shikoku, Japan in November 2009. Sea turtles are taken as part of the bycatch.

PIFSC researchers George Balazs and Donald Kobayashi traveled to Japan during late November and early December 2009 to work with colleagues there on a range of collaborative research projects. At the 20th Annual Symposium of the Sea Turtle Association of Japan (STAJ) in Miyazaki City, Kobayashi presented a talk on "Horizontal and vertical movements of pelagic Japanese loggerhead turtles taken as bycatch off the Pacific Coast of Taiwan." At Mutoto Point, 900 km from Miyazaki, Kobayashi and Balazs worked with STAJ graduate students to place satellite-transmitting tags on sea turtles taken as bycatch in the local pound net fishery. Eight tags were deployed, 7 on pelagic-phase loggerheads and 1 on a juvenile pelagic-phase green turtle. Later, the PIFSC scientists helped attach satellite-transmitting tags to 3 loggerhead turtles held temporarily at the Kobe Airport Lagoon. Dr. Naoki Kamezaki, President of the STAJ, oversaw activities of about 100 people participating in this tag-and-release research and educational outreach event.

Kobayashi and Balazs spent the last day of their trip in Nagoya, where they met with the Director of the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium and the facility’s sea turtle staff. They discussed plans to release up to 30 satellite-tagged juvenile loggerheads in pelagic habitat south of Japan in 2010 using the training vessels of the Miya School of Fisheries, Aichi Prefecture. This activity would begin a new phase of ongoing collaborative work between PIFSC and the Aquarium initiated by the PIFSC Marine Turtle Research Program and Ecosystem and Oceanography Division in 2003.