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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (November 13,2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---The Association to Safeguard New Caledonia's Nature (ASNNC) has chartered a yacht and set sail to the north of the French territory to monitor and tag sea turtles, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The 15-meter yacht "Cipac-Beachcomber" left the capital, Nouméa, on Friday with a dozen ASNNC volunteers onboard for its annual turtle tagging campaign. The project will continue for two weeks.

The campaign, which coincides with the turtles’ egg hatching season, will focus on d'Entrecasteaux reef's Surprise Islands.

"This is actually the thirteenth tagging campaign, but only the sixth with this ship, in the Surprise Islands. This mission is about tagging a maximum of animals, but also weighing and measuring the nests and the eggs’ temperatures," ASNNC President Jean-Louis d'Auzon said.

"Going every year to the same sites, at the same time of year, also allows scientists to make comparative studies and to see, for instance, how the turtle populations are evolving. All those statistics will then be conveyed to the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)."

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