Lighting the way
The SEA LIFE Trust sponsors an amazing new project in Peru
There is an amazing project happening off the coast of Peru – sponsored by the SEA LIFE Trust – which could potentially save the lives of countless sea turtles.
Trials have found that green LED lights attached to fishing nets dramatically reduce the number of sea turtles getting accidentally caught, and often drowned as a result.
“The light wavelength is visible to turtles but not to the fish species being targeted,” said Andy Bool, Head of the Trust.
“Initial trials with bottom-set gillnets reduced sea turtle by-catch by around 60-per cent,” he said. “They also proved extremely effective at preventing the accidental capture of dolphins, porpoises and sea lions.”
The SEA LIFE Trust’s £28,000 sponsorship is now funding two years of testing of the LED system on a 100 km stretch of surface gillnet.
All this is happening in a sea area known as Sechura Bay, which hosts so many sea turtles that 100 km of surface gillnet would ordinarily result in as many 1,500 turtle casualties over the course of a single year. The research is being overseen by Exeter University graduate Dr Joanna Alfaro.
“All seven species of sea turtles are endangered, and particularly vulnerable to plastic pollution as well as by-catch,” said Andy Bool. “Sea turtles are a focus-species for the Trust this year.
“If the lights prove as effective on the surface nets as they did on those set on the sea-bed, then the plan would be to try and get the system adopted by fisheries the world over…saving hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, as well as dolphins, porpoises and other species.”