MOL Car Carrier Galaxy Ace Cooperates With Port Of Nagoya Public Aquarium For Loggerhead Turtle Migration Research

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Takeshi Hashimoto) announced that one of its car carriers, the Galaxy Ace, teamed up with Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium on a project to study the migration patterns of loggerhead turtles (Note 1), with the vessel transporting turtles and aquarium staff.

On June 27, 25 loggerhead turtles were loaded onto the vessel at the Kinjo Pier in the Port of Nagoya, and on July 11 (local time), two research team members aboard the vessel released them into the Pacific Ocean.

The research is being conducted by Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium in collaboration with domestic and international research institutions to verify Thermal Corridor Hypothesis (Note 2) that loggerhead turtles in the eastern end of the central North Pacific reach the waters off California in El Niño years, when the sea surface is warmer.

This research can provide valuable knowledge about the ecology of the endangered loggerhead turtles and link it to conservation activities, by investigating the migration route from the location information transmitted from the transmitters attached to the turtles.

Releasing turtles into the sea ©Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
Credits: MOL

All of the released loggerheads are about two years old and relatively large, with carapace length of 30 cm to 40 cm and weight of approximately 8 kg. Unlike turtles immediately after hatching, they are less likely to be attacked by marine predators.

MOL has positioned environmental strategy as one of the key elements of its “BLUE ACTION 2035” management plan, and has established the “MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.2.” In the midst of growing international momentum toward Nature Positive (Note 3), the MOL Group, as a shipping company with a global network, is committed to supporting marine environmental science, including cooperation on research projects like the turtle migration research.

Recognizing the impact of its business activities on the marine environment and ecosystems, the group is proactively engaged in a wide variety of corporate citizenship activities to contribute to the conservation of the marine environment and biodiversity, as the ocean is not only site of its business activities, but also the common property of all people around the world.

Releasing turtles into the sea ©Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
Credits: MOL

(Note 1) Commonly known “Sea Turtle Research Experiment on the Thermal Corridor Hypothesis (STRETCH)”

Research period: 5 years from July 2023
Significance of the research: Loggerhead turtles are found in temperate and tropical regions of the world, and their nesting grounds in the North Pacific are mostly limited to the Japanese coastal areas influenced by the Kuroshio Current. They are known to migrate across the Pacific Ocean to waters off the Baja California Peninsula in El Niño years, but it is unknown how and when they migrate, or what route they take.

Detailed analysis of loggerhead turtle migration patterns and oceanographic data collected through this research will expand knowledge of the migration ecology and contribute to effective conservation activities.

(Note 2) There are “biogeographic barriers” proposed by Darwin to the east of the Pacific Ocean. Typically, the passage of marine organisms ranging from larvae to large swimming species is impeded. But the mechanism, by which the intermittent appearance of a warm seawater path, or “thermal corridor”, enables loggerhead turtles to migrate from the Central North Pacific to the coast of Baja California in Mexico, is proposed as the Thermal Corridor Hypothesis.

(Note 3) Nature Positive means to halt and reverse biodiversity loss to put nature on a path to recovery.

Press Release

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