The State of the World's Sea Turtles

About SWOT Database and Online Interface

This online database and mapping interface is built on the SWOT database made possible through the partnership described below and support from all the contributors around the world.
The SWOT database incorporates the WIDECAST database as well.
Since 2012, the data collection and database management are conducted by the OBIS-SEAMAP team at the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University. The OBIS-SEAMAP team also develops the online interface.

DatabasePartnership / Supporters

Contacts Bryan Wallace, Oceanic Society
The OBIS-SEAMAP team, Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University
Abstract SWOT - the State of the World's Sea Turtles - is a partnership led by Marine Flagship Species Program at the Oceanic Society, Conservation International (CI), the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG), and supported by the OBIS-SEAMAP project at the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL), Duke University.

However, the lifeblood of the effort is the network of more than 550 people and projects that contribute data to the SWOT database, the only comprehensive, global database of sea turtle nesting sites. the SWOT team has completed six years of data collection including the global nesting locations of all seven marine turtle species: green, leatherbacks, loggerheads, hawksbills, flatbacks, olive and Kemp's ridleys. SWOT now collects data for all species in its annual data collection.

In addition to collating nesting abundance and distribution information for all species, SWOT now hosts data compiled by the MTSG Burning Issues Working Group that includes Regional Management Units for all seven marine turtle species, including all available georeferenced mtDNA and nDNA stocks. These files can be viewed here and downloaded for analyses once the Terms of Use are agreed to. Furthermore, SWOT also supports recommendations for monitoring effort schemes that will allow for comparison of long-term nesting abundance and trend estimates for regional and global populations of sea turtle species. These advances will solidify SWOT as the premier global monitoring system for sea turtles. Information on Minimum Data Standards are available at

The current SWOT database contains sea turtle nesting records from over 120 countries all over the world. This online tool, hosted by OBIS-SEAMAP, builds on previous work initiated and supported by WIDECAST organization as well as data from several other regional sea turtle organizations. Records coming from projects that are both a part of a regional organization are flagged as such. The WIDECAST Atlas can still be accessed as a stand-alone application. New data from the WIDECAST network is added to the SWOT database annually.

Records in the SWOT database are reported in several formats to preserve ease of reporting for individual data providers. When possible, exact counts of nesting females, clutches, or crawls are reported, however binned values are given for some sites where no exact estimates were available. Region- and species-specific conversion factors are used to convert among count types for display purposes only. This ensures that no nesting sites are dropped from the display when viewing the data using different types of counts. The converted values themselves are never displayed, and users should refer to the individual data records to view the original counts reported. When all species are displayed, colony size is used to color the points with the color white representing unquantified sites. The most recent record for the species nesting in the greatest abundance at that site is used to determine the color. Nesting sites containing multiple species are represented with a circle.

SWOT reports and non-interactive maps (originally published in the SWOT reports) are available online at For any questions about the database, the SWOT project, contributions or data access issues, please contact us at or Bryan Wallace.

Inquiries can also be made as to the availability of data for use in research projects. The SWOT Scientific Advisory Board will release nest location data for use in projects that meet our review requirements; however, individual data provider permissions will need to be acquired by any parties wishing to utilize abundance data.
  • Kot, C.Y., A. DiMatteo, E. Fujioka, B. Wallace, B. Hutchinson, J. Cleary, P. Halpin and R. Mast, 2012. The State of the World's Sea Turtles Online Database: Data provided by the SWOT Team and hosted on OBIS-SEAMAP. Oceanic Society, Conservation International, IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG), and Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University.
  • Halpin, P.N., A.J. Read, E. Fujioka, B.D. Best, B. Donnelly, L.J. Hazen, C. Kot, K. Urian, E. LaBrecque, A. Dimatteo, J. Cleary, C. Good, L.B. Crowder, and K.D. Hyrenbach. 2009. OBIS-SEAMAP: The world data center for marine mammal, sea bird, and sea turtle distributions. Oceanography 22(2):104-115
Most recent report
Previous reports
  • SWOT Report vol VII. The World's Most (and Least) Threatened Sea Turtles. 2012.
  • SWOT Report vol VI. The Green Turtle: The Most Valuable Reptile in the World. 2011.
  • SWOT Report vol V. Kemp's and Olive Ridleys: Small Turtles, Big Secrets. 2010.
  • SWOT Report vol IV. Discovering the flatback: Australia’s Own Sea Turtle. 2009.
  • SWOT Report vol III. Where the Hawksbills Are. 2008.
  • SWOT Report vol II. A Global Glimpse of Loggerhead Nesting. 2007.
  • SWOT Report vol I. Burning Issues in Sea Turtle Conservation
 Leatherback Sea Turtles of the World. 2009.

All reports are available at

Data Providers & References for Selected Countries / Regions

Providers Please select a country to see the data provider(s) for the country.
Citations Please select a country to see the citation(s) for the nesting data in the country.


Nesting data uploaded in 2013

Below is a summary of the most recently added batch of nesting data records, generously contributed to SWOT.
  < 25
  > 1000

Species Distribution  RMUs  mtDNA  nDNA  HS 
Caretta caretta               
Chelonia mydas               
Dermochelys coriacea               
Eretmochelys imbricata               
Lepidochelys kempii       N/A N/A   
Lepidochelys olivacea               
Natator depressus          N/A   
Data Use Agreement