Science Advisory Report 2013/075
Advice relevant to the identification of critical habitat for Leatherback Sea Turtles (Pacific Population)
- In 1981, Leatherback Sea Turtle populations in Canadian waters were assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as Endangered.
- In 2003, the Leatherback Sea Turtle was listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). In May 2012, the species was reassessed as two separate populations (Atlantic and Pacific). Both populations continue to be listed as Endangered.
- As part of the SARA recovery process, the “Recovery Strategy for the Leatherback Turtle populations in Pacific Canadian waters” was published on the SARA Registry in February 2007. Critical habitat was not identified at this time.
- Leatherback Sea Turtle sightings in British Columbia are infrequent. Data compiled from sightings, strandings and entanglements from 1931 to 2009 identified a total of 126 unique Leatherback sighting records from the waters of British Columbia.
- Leatherback Sea Turtles feed on scyphozoan prey in temperate high latitude locales, such as the Pacific Canadian coast.
- Using an envelope model to locate suitable habitat for Leatherback Sea Turtle foraging, the animal’s known behavioural traits, and sightings information the spatial extent of possible critical habitat in Canadian Pacific waters was described.
- Future directions include improving the model predictive ability and exploring the robustness of the model. Validation of the model using the jellyfish survey database and detailed sightings data of foraging Leatherbacks was recommended.
This Science Advisory Report is from the December 5-6, 2012 Review of the model and information needed to identify Critical Habitat for Leatherback Turtle – Pacific Population. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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