Commemorative stamps celebrate sea turtle conservation research in British Indian Ocean Territory

This week sees the release by the British Indian Ocean Territory Administration of a commemorative first day issue of stamps celebrating the sea turtle conservation research being conducted in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) by Swansea University and Deakin University (Australia) scientists in collaboration with the Territory Administration.

Commemorative stamps

BIOT is a remote archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The atolls lie at the heart of one of the world’s largest marine protected areas and contain a range of pristine marine habitats including coral reefs and seagrass beds. The islands also play host to major nesting populations of green and hawksbill sea turtles, which journey from sites across the Indian Ocean to nest on the sandy beaches found on all the atolls.

The research group, led by Nicole Esteban (Swansea) and Graeme Hays (Deakin), is assessing the status of these nesting populations and threats. As part of this research, the team is using satellites and tags to track the turtles so that the full extent of their range can be identified, allowing targeted conservation management at key sites across the ocean basin. Initial results have been staggering, with some females that nested in BIOT travelling over 4000km to mainland Africa to feed outside the breeding season. These findings show how academic and governmental collaborations across nations are needed to fully protect sea turtles. The set of stamps features images of green and hawksbill turtles and an information sheet about the biology of sea turtles in BIOT.

Set of turtle stamps