STORY: Off the shore of Thailand's resort island Phuket, marine conservationists are releasing 11 baby leatherback sea turtles into the ocean.

Each one has a little satellite tag attached to their backs, to monitor their progress in the wild.

It's part of a conservation effort to try to boost the endangered species' chance of survival.

The leatherback sea turtle is now a critically endangered species in the Pacific region.

The World Wildlife Fund says this type of turtle has an estimated population of fewer than 2,300 adult females in the region.

In 2018, it was discovered that the species was returning to southern Thailand to lay their eggs.

A typical leatherback will lay eggs after 20 to 25 years.

The stronger turtles can make their way into the ocean, while others perish after hatching.

Hirun Kanghae is a senior fishery biologist at Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources:

"0.1 - 0.2% is the survival rate of leatherback turtle hatchlings to adulthood. If 100 eggs hatch from a single nest, we'd need 10 just for one or two turtles to survive to adulthood."

That's why a program was launched to nurse the weak baby leatherbacks.

Thailand is one of five countries that have been able to nurse this species of baby turtle up to their first year.

The animals are then released into the ocean and have satellite tags to monitor their progress, as part of an initiative by the non-profit conservation organization Upwell Turtles.

Pinsak Suraswadi is the Director-General of Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

"We think it's necessary for us to study the travel routes of the baby turtles to understand where they are going so that we can implement measures to protect the leatherback turtle while they are hatching from their nests."

After their release, the turtles still face dangers from fishing gear, eating plastic waste, and exposure to toxins.

"For me, as a scientist, I'm happy to know whether our effort in nurturing the leatherback sea turtles for a year proves fruitful or not. And after it has been released, can it survive in nature or not? If so, it answers everything about the conservation and population restoration of the leatherback sea turtles in the best way possible."