Working together to protect sea turtles and their habitats worldwide...

Contributing data to SWOT

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SWOT sea turtle nesting and telemetry data

SWOT - the State of the World's Sea Turtles - is a partnership led by the Marine Flagship Species Program at the Oceanic Society and data collected by SWOT are hosted on the OBIS-SEAMAP/SWOT website, maintained by the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University. The lifeblood of the effort is the SWOT network of more than 550 people and projects that contribute sea turtle nesting and telemetry data to the SWOT database, the most comprehensive, global database of sea turtle nesting sites.
OBIS SEAMAP/SWOT hosts >6000 nesting data records from >3000 monitored sites globally for all sea turtle species. All data are available for viewing under the OBIS-SEAMAP Terms of Use. Users can explore data by species, country/region, and count type and view/download related GIS layers on sea turtle distribution, RMUs, sites for genetic studies, and habitat suitability. In addition, SWOT data can be viewed along with other datasets within OBIS SEAMAP, including survey observations, telemetry data, and oceanographic and marine region layers.

Long-term scientific goals of SWOT

Global sea turtle nesting abundance and distribution

In recent years, SWOT has developed a strategy and been working toward the long-term science goal of making SWOT the premiere global monitoring system for sea turtle populations and species. To do this, we have developed minimum standards for nesting beach data contributed to SWOT that: 1) allow comparison across sites with different levels of monitoring effort, and 2) allow for estimation of population abundances and long-term population trends. SWOT brought together some of the sea turtle community’s top leaders in data collection and statistical techniques, and developed a one-of-a-kind statistical modeling program that estimates real numbers of nesting turtles from incomplete data sets. The results and products—including a user-friendly handbook and modeling software—are available here. We look forward to the input from the SWOT Team as products are tested and put to use.

SWOT global sea turtle tracking initiative

In addition to SWOT’s scientific goals for nesting beach monitoring, SWOT is expanding its database through the Global Sea Turtle Tracking Initiative to identify important areas for sea turtles throughout the world’s oceans by aggregating available satellite telemetry data into a single, common database. We are collating satellite tracking data from all species and geographies to identify “Important Turtle Areas” at regional and global scales to guide spatial management of threats to sea turtles. This system will augment the global nesting database to provide the most comprehensive perspective of sea turtle biogeography available, and will allow user-driven updates and improvements to maintain currency.

Ready to contribute?

SWOT is ready for data contributions! Whether you have another year of nesting data or want to provide data from previous years, please send it along. In addition to nesting data, SWOT is also now collecting—for the first time—satellite telemetry data. If you have telemetry data you would like to contribute to SWOT, please email us directly. Alternatively, if you are a SEATURTLE.ORG STAT user, you can simply check the box in your STAT account that allows data contribution to OBIS-SEAMAP (SWOT is part of OBIS-SEAMAP), and then send us an email to let us know that you want your data to be included in the SWOT database. We will be working together with SEATURTLE.ORG to streamline this process in the very near future. All SWOT documents—especially terms of reference for data providers—are available upon request (
Please help improve our understanding of the status of sea turtle populations by contributing your valuable data to SWOT and others around the world. Please follow the links below for more information.