January 13, 2009

Satellite to keep eye on Ecuadoran turtle

Scientists will use space technology to help them monitor a rare hawksbill turtle as it lives out its life along the coast of Ecuador, the government says.

The satellite will help the scientists track the member of the critically endangered species as they study its behavior, the Ecuadoran president's press office said.

The turtle, which is fitted with a tracking device, had been kept at the marine life rescue center at the Machalilla National Park in Santa Elena province in western Ecuador before being set free.

The researchers will follow the turtle and try to learn about its habitat, migration routes and development, among other aspects, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported Tuesday.

Ecuador is one of the few countries on the Pacific coast that has been identified -- by means of studies by the Equilibrio Azul Foundation and the Conservation International organization -- as a nesting site, the presidential press office said.

Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua are home to more than 90 percent of the hawksbill turtle's nesting sites, which are affected by the destruction of coastal beaches.