Sea Turtles Observatory


The Sea Turtles Observatory in French Polynesia is an independent structure created in 2011 and managed by te mana o te moana. Considering the stakes, regarding these endangered and protected species’ conservation, the Observatory is an important tool for awareness raising and participatory management.

The Observatory’s mission is also the creation of educational tools, especially in Tahitian language, training sessions, and implementation of new research and conservation initiatives.


Sea turtles:
Protected but still endangered species


In French Polynesia, 5 species of sea turtles are currently listed: the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Hawksbill turtles and Green turtles are the most frequently seen in French polynesia, but the Green turtle is the only species killed for meat.
Since 1971, the Government of French Polynesia has created legal tools to ensure the protection of sea turtles. All sea turtles listed in French Polynesia are legally protected.

However, these regulations obviously fail to protect the species facing an intense and uncontrolled commercial poaching.

In this context, the Sea Turtles Observatory offers an important tool for participatory management of sea turtles. It involves local communities in the collection of information, while raising awareness amongst them. French Polynesia being as vast as Europe, it is a necessity that inhabitants from remote islands cooperate with the Observatory and therefore contribute to the conservation of sea turtles.


Federate people, Collect data, Spread information


Why create an Observatory for Sea Turtles in French Polynesia? To…
  • Develop a network of volunteers for observations, in all Polynesian islands, to supply the existing Polynesian database with more information
  • Spread the available information on sea turtles towards the public, tourism operators and environmental actors
  • Provide technical assistance (in the form of trainings, or publications)
  • Create links with other existing networks in the Pacific and in French overseas territories
  • Implement new research and conservation initiatives, in concertation with local actors, and responding to identified needs on the field
  • Provide an operational structure to help the Polynesian Government in the orientation and structuration of conservation programs for sea turtles.


The eyes of the Observatory


Getting involved in the Observatory can be done in various ways, according to eachone’s possibilities:

  • sending observation forms, activity reports or any document relating to sea turtles in French Polynesia
  • helping with the administrative management of the network and spreading information amongst the partners
  • contributing to projects / missions held or implemented by the Observatory

To gather all participants and promote exchanges within the Observatory, an online FORUM is now available:


Looking forward to meeting you on the FORUM!

For more information:


GUIDE for eco-volunteers in French Polynesia – June 2011 (in French)

Creation of the Sea Turtles Observatory in French Polynesia – 2011 (in French)
This report includes:

  • Sea Turtles Observation Form
  • Sea Turtles’ Nests Monitoring Form
  • Identification Card for the two main species of sea turtles in French Polynesia


The “old” Observation Network… becoming the new Observatory


The Sea Turtles Observation Network in French Polynesia was created at the end of the year 2007 by te mana o te moana, in order to:

  • raise awareness by involving local communities,
  • collect as much information as possible on marine turtles sighted in all Polynesian islands, in order to better know their population and better understand their repartition and movements.

The Sea Turtles Observation Network was actually the first step, and gradually became the Sea Turtles Observatory. All previously done observations have been incorporated into the Observatory’s databank, and many contributors are still involved with the Observatory.


Sea Turtles’ Nests Monitoring

>> Read more about the Sea Turtles’ Nests Monitoring





Satellite tagging of marine turtles

In order to improve scientific data on sea turtles and to initiate new research initiatives – two objectives of the Observatory, three adults Hawksbill turtles have been equipped for satellite tagging.
>> Read more about satellite tagging



Contact the Sea Turtles Observatory


Sea Turtles Observatory in French Polynesia
BP 1374 Papetoai – 98729 MOOREA – French Polynesia
Tel : 715 344
Mail : matthieu.temana@gmail.com


The financial supports


The creation of the Sea Turtles Observatory is a local initiative, directed by te mana o te moana, and funded by the Annenberg Foundation and the Fondation Nicolas Hulot pour la Nature et l’Homme. This project was also supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the CRIOBE Research Center (Moorea), the Polynesian Minitry of Environment, and the GIE Tahiti Tourisme.




To fulfill its information-spreading mission, the Observatory manages an online Bibliographic Database where can be downloaded: scientific reports, publications, educational tools, guide and other documents presently available in French Polynesia.

The entire list can be consulted in the following report:

Creation of the Sea Turtles Observatory in French Polynesia – 2011



This post is also available in: French