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Feb 08,2008
Endangered turtle swims 12,744 miles
by UPI

PORTLAND - The journey began in Indonesia's warm waters and when it ended at the U.S. Pacific Northwest coast a giant leatherback sea turtle had clocked 12,744 miles.

Scientists, who tracked the endangered species reptile by satellite as he ventured across the Pacific Ocean, said it was longest recorded migration of any sea vertebrate, ANI reported.

The journey began in the summer of 2003 and the 12,744 miles were covered in 647 days -- all that trouble to feast on jellyfish off Oregon's coast.

Scott Benson with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who lea the study, told National Geographic the leatherbacks are huge reptiles that can measure up to nine feet from the tip of one flipper to the other and weight 1,200 pounds.

"Like large whales, their immense size allows them to store (food) reserves and travel great distances without eating regularly. Although they are hatched at tropical beaches, they have unique adaptations for a reptile that enable them to tolerate cool, temperate waters," Benson said.

The turtle was one of nine leatherbacks studied and the only one to complete the longest journey. The other turtles went in different directions.

The study is published in the journal Chelonian Conservation and Biology.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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