State of the World's Sea Turtles, The

The State of the World's Sea Turtles Team

Dataset credit

The State of the World's Sea Turtles Team
Oceanic Society
IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University


Primary contact Bryan Wallace State of the World's Sea Turtles
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



SWOT - the State of the World's Sea Turtles - is a partnership led by Marine Flagship Species Program at the Oceanic Society and the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG), and supported by the OBIS-SEAMAP project at the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL), Duke University. This online database and mapping application is built with sea turtle nesting and telemetry data contributed to SWOT since 2004 and also incorporates earlier efforts that produced the WIDECAST nesting database. Since 2012, the data collection and database management are conducted by the OBIS-SEAMAP team at the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University.

Currently, SWOT collects data from a network of more than 550 people and projects (SWOT team) for the only comprehensive, global database of sea turtle nesting sites and satellite telemetry data. The SWOT team has provided global nesting locations and satellite telemetry data of all seven marine turtle species: green, leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill, flatback, olive ridley, and Kemp's ridley. These data have been highlighted here and in annual SWOT reports, available freely in print and online. Furthermore, SWOT supports recommendations for monitoring effort schemes (minimum data standards or MDS) that will allow for comparison of long-term nesting abundance and trend estimates for regional and global populations of sea turtle species. All data contributed to SWOT must include MDS level information to facilitate a standardized global monitoring system for sea turtles.

In addition to collating sea turtle nesting and telemetry data, SWOT provides other geospatial sea turtle data, including species regional management units, georeferenced sea turtle mtDNA and nDNA sampling sites, and a nesting habitat suitability layer. These files can be viewed and downloaded for analyses from the SWOT mapping application ( once the OBIS-SEAMAP Terms of Use are agreed upon.


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.

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.

Supplemental information

[2023-04-07] Latest nesting data were appended.
[2022-09-06] Hawksbill's nesting data prepared for SWOT Report vol XVII (2022) were appended.
[2021-12-04] Nesting data in Mexico (Atlantic) in 2018-21 were appended.
[2021-12-03] Nesting data in Greece in 2019-21 were appended.
[2016-04-28] Nesting data in 2014 were appended from the SWOT database.
[2015-04-23] Metadata edited.
[2014-04-02] Nesting data in 2013 were appended from the SWOT database.
[2013-01-30] Nesting data on the map were updated from the SWOT database.
[2013-06-11] Nesting data were updated from the SWOT database; shapefiles, csv, wfs, wms, and kml files were uploaded to the website 6/20/2013

Please note: this dataset does not reflect the most up-to-date version of the SWOT database. Please see the interactive SWOT map for the latest updates and information here.

Sea turtle nesting activity in the SWOT database were originally reported in several count formats (i.e., females, nests, crawls) to ease reporting effort for individual data providers. When possible, exact counts of nesting females, clutches, or crawls are reported. However, binned values were reported 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.




This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
oidoid for internal use
nestidUnique ID, based on site,species, year, monitoring season, monitoring effort (assigned by OBIS-SEAMAP)
site_idSite ID (generated by SWOT)
reg_codeCountry / Region code
regionCountry / Region name
iso_codeISO3166-1 country code
swot_regionRegion defined by SWOT
beach_nameBeach Name
latitudeLatitude of nesting site in decimal degrees
longitudeLongitude of nesting site in decimal degrees
sp_tsnTaxonomic Serial Number added by OBIS-SEAMAP
sp_obsSpecies name
report_yearSWOT report year
obs_countNesting count (Nest count)
mfemfemale count (either reported or calculated using a conversion factor)
mnestNest count (either reported or calculated using a conversion factor)
mcrawlCrawl count (either reported or calculated using a conversion factor)
obs_dateObserved date - only year is valid; month and day defaults are 1
mdsMDS Level
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles6,054
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1930-01-01
Date, End2022-01-01
Temporal prec.100000
Latitude-29.48 - 43.27
Longitude0.62 - 359.94
Coord. prec.6 decimal digits
Data typeHabitat survey
EffortYES (ID: 2171)
Traveled (km)0
Travel hours0
Contr. throughThe State of the World's Sea Turtles
Sharing policy Permission required
Shared with None
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics