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Research Initiatives

We are collaborating with local partners internationally to conduct high-impact research projects

Photo Identification Program

Improving estimates of leatherback sea turtle population size, internesting movements, migration patterns, fisheries interactions and nesting behavior while simultaneously providing a platform for community outreach, fundraising and conservation campaigns.

We aim to combine photographs, citizen science, and computer algorithms to identify individual leatherbacks to understand patterns of range-wide connectivity. We rely on contributions from colleagues ‘on-the-ground’ – or in the water – and try to maximize the value of face-to-face interactions with leatherbacks around the world. The dataset collected by various groups of individual leatherbacks will be the first used to develop computer algorithms for automatic individual identification using the white spots on the sides of the face of a leatherback. This is a pilot project and is in its trial phase.


Iluminar el Mar  Bycatch Reduction in Ecuador

Working to prevent the extirpation of East Pacific leatherbacks

TLP is collaborating with fishermen cooperatives, the Vice Ministry of Fisheries, local nonprofit organizations, and local biologists and university students to develop a multi-phase bycatch reduction program. 

This project has several components:

  1. Testing bycatch reduction technology

  2. Education and outreach campaign

  3. Monitoring stranding events

  4. Community & fishermen surveys

  5. Research investigations into habitat use of endangered species and fisheries overlap

  6. Bycatch reduction technology implementation

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Proyecto CONAP - Nature Conservation
in the Pearl Islands
Archipelago, Panama

Identifying new-to-science nesting and foraging grounds, combatting illegal wildlife trade, and collaborating with local communities

In the Pearl Islands we are working with the local community on various islands to learn more about sea turtle habitat use in the Archipelago, the history and culture of human use of sea turtles, prevalence of sea turtle bycatch, and the major threats that sea turtles face in the Gulf of Panama.

We are currently analyzing data from our pilot expedition and look forward to sharing our findings! 

This program is funded by:

  • National Geographic Society

  • Philip Stephenson Foundation

  • Isla Secas Foundation

  • Rolex

  • Marine Conservation Action Fund of the New England Aquarium 

  • Earth Law Center

  • Big Andrew Foundation 

  • SEE Turtles 

  • additional private donors


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Learn more

Proyecto Yaug Galu - 
Sacred Turtle Project
Armila, Panama

Collaborating with the Guna People to launch a long-term sea turtle monitoring program, study in-water habitat use, create conservation culture, and protect the leatherback turtle.

The Guna People of Panama believe the leatherback sea turtles are their descendents, a part of their family. The project's name, Proyecto Yaug Galu, means the Sacred Turtle Project in Guna. Through satellite tagging, the initiation of a long term monitoring program in Armila, and the mentorship of undergraduate thesis students, The Leatherback Project is using strong science to draw attention to the impacts of proposed construction projects on marine turtles. Through studying and exhibiting the internesting movements and migratory patterns of the female turtles in collaboration with local communities, we can shed light on this urgent conservation concern and protect these fragile coastlines, endangered species, and vulnerable communities from destruction and exploitation.

This program is funded by:

  • Keystone Species Alliance

  • Prince Bernhard Nature Fund

  • Philip Stephenson Foundation

  • Earth Law Center

  • additional private donors


Learn more
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