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Epson Technology Helps Protect Loggerhead Sea Turtles

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Epson's sensing technology is being used in some unexpected places. One such place is in the fight to help preserve biodiversity and, specifically, in a battle to help protect the endangered loggerhead sea turtle.

The man-made beach inside Kamogawa Sea World park

Joint Project by Kamogawa Sea World and Epson

Kamogawa Sea World, in Chiba, Japan, is working with the Japanese government on a project to protect loggerhead sea turtles, whose Pacific habitat and nesting sites extend only as far northern as the Boso Peninsula, near Kamogawa, in Chiba Prefecture. As part of this project a limited number of eggs laid on the beaches of the Boso Peninsula are collected and transferred to a man-made beach inside Kamogawa Sea World park if the eggs are threatened by adverse weather conditions such as typhoons, or if conditions make it unlikely that the eggs will hatch. Researchers within Kamogawa Sea World study loggerhead biology and ecology and hatch the eggs under conditions that are as natural as possible. The hatchlings are released back into the wild. Epson plays a significant role in this project. As part of its efforts to help preserve biodiversity, Epson uses its sensing technology to measure underground temperatures and monitor nests to detect when buried eggs hatch under the sand of the artificial beach and at sites along the Tojo coastline, which extends along the front of the sea park.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Why the Loggerhead Protection Project?

Epson had been exploring potential new applications for sensing technology when it heard about the nascent Kamogawa Sea World project and decided to become involved. With Epson on board, the loggerhead sea turtle protection project was launched in June 2010. The goal for Epson is to contribute to the protection of biodiversity while verifying the effectiveness of sensing technology in this new application.

Sensor Module and Measurement Method

Epson developed two types of wireless sensing modules for use at the artificial beach. One module that measures the temperature of the sand in 10 cm increments from a depth of 10 cm down to 50 cm. The other detects the hatching of eggs. The temperature sensor automatically takes measurements every 30 minutes. The temperature readings are stored in memory within the module. The miniature hatching sensor is placed above the eggs. When it is touched by the hatchlings, the sensor automatically records the date and time in module memory. The sensing systems are completed by a laptop PC provided by subsidiary company Epson Direct. Members of the Kamogawa Sea World staff walk or cycle along the artificial sea turtle beach and Tojo coastline once a day to capture data with an "orange box," a device that wirelessly reads temperature data and hatching sensor data from the modules buried in the sand. What is special about this wireless communications technology is that it enables signals to be sent and received by devices buried in the sand (and, for that matter, by devices buried in the ground or installed underwater). This ability, in turn, enables the project team to monitor the temperature of the nest and determine the date and time the eggs hatched without having to dig them up.

Data collection system
Temperature sensor module
Loggerhead eggs and hatching sensor

Even in the scorching summer heat Epson's sensing system worked exactly as it should, and saw a total of 314 baby sea turtles start their ocean journey.

Newly hatched baby turtles begin their journey to the Pacific

Epson's Policy on the Protection of Biodiversity

Epson's Environmental Vision 2050 states that "as a member of the ecosystem, Epson will continue to work towards restoring and protecting biodiversity together with local communities." The Epson Management Philosophy also cites a "commitment to environmental conservation," which reflects the fact that harmonious coexistence with nature has been a key concern for Epson since the company was founded. Development of inkjet printer paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)*1 and involvement in agroforestry*2 programs are just two examples of Epsonfs biodiversity-related initiatives. Epson believes the best way to help preserve biodiversity is to steadily continue its existing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. Our approach to biodiversity centers on the two initiatives, one to preserve biodiversity throughout our business activities and the other to raise employee awareness of biodiversity.

*1 The FSC runs a program for certifying products produced using lumber from forests that are managed and logged in an environmental responsible manner. The timber and timber products (including paper) produced from these forests carry the FSC mark.

*2 An agricultural practice in which livestock and/or crops are raised among planted trees. This practice is being used in Epson's reforestation project on Kalimantan.