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Last Updated: Thursday April 19 2007 12:24 GMT

Race to save leatherback turtles

Turtle

Leatherback turtles are taking part in a race across the ocean which might help their species from dying out.

Scientists are using satellite technology to track 11 sea turtles on their annual journey from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands.

Their movements are being followed on a special website and experts hope to learn more about their lives.

There are fewer than 25,000 of the creatures left in the world and experts say they could become extinct soon.

The tagging system, nick-named The Great Turtle Race, involves the turtles wearing a tiny backpack strapped to its shell.

Every time the creatures - which can be up to 2m long - surface, the pack's antennae transmits their location to a satellite which then turns the data into a map to show where they are.

Protection

Leatherback turtle
Leatherback turtle

It also sends back information on the water temperature, how deep they dive to and how long they can hold their breath for!

Scientists hope the information will help them work out which areas the turtles like to breed in so they can be protected.

They're expected to arrive on the Galapagos Islands about 29 April.