THE RO-RO vessel Galaxy Ace recently transported 25 loggerhead turtles and the staff of a Japanese aquarium as part of a research project.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines teamed up with the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium on the project, focusing on the species’ migration patterns.

The turtles were loaded onto Galaxy Ace at the Kinjo Pier in the Port of Nagoya, and on 11 July two research team members aboard the ship released the turtles into the Pacific Ocean.

“All of the released loggerheads are about two years old and relatively large, with carapace length of 30 centimetres to 40 centimetres and weight of approximately eight kilograms,” MOL said.

“Unlike turtles immediately after hatching, they are less likely to be attacked by marine predators.”

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium is also collaborating with local and international research institutions on the project.

The research intends to verify the so-called Thermal Corridor Hypothesis – 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,” MOL said.

The Liberian-flagged Galaxy Ace is 200 metres long (LOA) and 32 metres wide.