Turtle is Species of the day at start of biodiversity conference

18 October 2010

As the UN’s biodiversity conference begins today in Nagoya, Japan, the Natural History Museum’s Species of the day highlights the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle. This animal is just one example of the need for urgent international action to halt worldwide biodiversity loss.

Although the turtle lives throughout the world’s oceans, from Alaska to the southern tip of Africa, having the largest range of any sea turtle hasn't kept its population safe.

The leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, has suffered a large reduction in its numbers mainly due to entanglement in fishing gear, over-harvesting of eggs, and hunting. It is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List.

Country borders and sea boundaries mean nothing to this reptile. However, the turtle’s future protection will require international cooperation and action.

The leatherback is just one of the many species under threat of extinction. The planet’s biodiversity, which is the diversity of plants, animals and the habitats they depend on, is being lost at accelerating rates.

At the 2-week biodiversity conference, 193 officials and their partners will be trying to come up with solutions to significantly reduce the world’s biodiversity loss. The targets committed to in the 2002 meeting were not met. Hopefully this meeting will have a different outcome, for the sake of the leatherback turtle, and the rest of the planet’s biodiversity.

COP10, the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is taking place from 18-29 October in Nagoya, Japan.

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