Invasive Rats—A Growing Threat to Sea Turtles

New research from Tetiaroa Atoll, French Polynesia documented predation by invasive rats at main sea turtle nesting sites. Researchers from Te Mana o te Moana have been monitoring green sea turtle nesting on Tetiaroa Atoll since 2007 under the authorization, and with the support of, the Direction de l'Environnement Polynésie Française. 

turtle hatchling on a Tetiaroa beach

For the last 2 years, in partnership with University of Auckland, researchers have used motion-activated cameras to monitor activity by invasive rats. The videos show both adult and juvenile rats digging and sniffing out areas where hatchlings would emerge only two days later. Footage from the nests strongly suggests that invasive rats are searching for and intentionally using hatchlings as a food source.

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Invasive rats recorded devouring sea turtle hatchlings on Tetiaroa Atoll.

Warning: Graphic video. Viewer Discretion is Advised.

monitoring a nest

Saving Sea Turtles on Tetiaroa

While sea turtles face numerous threats, invasive rats are a solvable problem. Removing invasive rats can prevent these kinds of predatory interactions and save sea turtle hatchlings as they emerge from the nests.

turtle hatchlings on Tetiaroa

Tetiaroa Society and partners (University of Auckland, Island Conservation, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) are working to restore habitats by removing rats from the atoll. This action will not only provide safe habitat for nesting turtles on Tetiaroa, but will also protect nesting seabirds, crabs, reptiles and plants from predation by rats.

You can help save Tetiaroa's sea turtles by supporting Tetiaroa Society today. Your gift goes directly toward protecting sea turtle habitat by removing invasive rats. Thank you for your support!

hatching turtles off to the sea

Source: Pacific Conservation Biology

Thank you to Markus Gronwald, PhD student at the University of Auckland for all the work performed by Te mana o te moana’s side.