Upwell’s mission is to protect endangered sea turtles by reducing threats at sea, including fisheries bycatch, ship strikes, pollution, and climate change. All sea turtle species worldwide are imperiled by detrimental human activities in marine environments.
The Big Idea
Upwell protects endangered sea turtles by reducing threats at sea, including fisheries bycatch, ship strikes, pollution and climate change. Pacific leatherbacks are facing local extinction—this dwindling population relies on critical habitat in the California Current for foraging, principally feeding on jellyfish. In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Upwell conducts aerial surveys and tracks leatherback sea turtles with satellite tags to learn more about habitat use, as well as to identify areas of concentration and reduce fisheries interactions. When provided with real-time data on when and
where leatherbacks are present in California waters, fishery managers and fishers are better equipped to proactively reduce bycatch, avoid closures and assist efforts to recover this critically endangered population.
Although leatherbacks have likely been seasonal constituents of the local marine ecosystem for hundreds of years, many people remain unaware of their existence. The population has declined steeply over the past three decades and this project will improve our knowledge of leatherback turtles in our backyard and empower citizens to help stop the decline of this ancient mariner.
- Scott Benson, NOAA Scientist