Since 2015 the MHI Group has provided support to the "Tanegashima Loggerhead Sea Turtle Survey" program sponsored by the authorized NPO EarthWatch Japan. In this, the fourth year of the program, a total of six sessions have been planned for the period between June and August to tag female turtles coming to the beach to lay eggs and to study the morphology of newly hatched turtles. Tanegashima, located off the southern tip of Kyushu, is home to the Tanegashima Space Center, a core element of MHI's space operations.
The first four surveys of spawning sea turtles were carried out between June 22 and July 3. Each survey was performed by 12 participants: 6 employee volunteers and 6 volunteers from the general public. On each instance, the volunteers spent three days (two nights) on the island.
Because loggerhead sea turtles are sensitive to light, marking them with identification tags for research purposes and measurement of their shells, length and width, using a caliper must be performed in the dark. In preparation to do so, the volunteers were given prior instruction on how to conduct the survey by an academic expert and members of Turtle Crew, a local NPO. Then, between 9 p.m. and around 3 a.m. on the designated nights, the volunteers set out on Nagahama Beach, which is on Tanegashima's western side, and elsewhere in search of arriving sea turtles. When, by following new tracks in the sand, they located a turtle, they immediately marked it with an identification tag and measured its shell, all the while making every effort not to disturb its spawning behavior.
The survey program is targeted at protecting loggerhead sea turtles, currently under threat of extinction, and creating a healthy environment for spawning by clarifying adult females' homing rate back to earlier spawning sites on Tanegashima, their physical makeup, and spawning success rates. During the four survey sessions (8 nights) most recently conducted, a total of 17 loggerhead sea turtles were tagged for identification, with 16 confirmed as having laid eggs. Five turtles were returnees tagged in the 2016 or 2017 surveys.
In this way, this program launched four years ago is providing significant information concerning the ecology of loggerhead sea turtles: their return rates, return cycles, etc. This new data is expected to contribute to protection of the species.
Going forward, in accordance with our CSR Action Guidelines, the MHI Group will continue to take a variety of initiatives to protect the environment and biodiversity.
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