Sea turtles need a safe place to live during each of their life stages. To protect them, we need to know where they go. Jeanette has spent years learning how to tag hatchlings of different turtle species to discover their early travel destinations.
Every scientist has a defining moment in their life that led them to their career. For me that moment came when I was about four years old. I was fascinated by dinosaurs. The wonderful plastic models with the Latin names embossed on their bellies kept my attention for many days and nights. After a few months, I announced to my mother that I wanted a pet dinosaur. Sadly, that was not to be. I learned the term ‘extinct’, that some things were gone forever, and that there were things so old that even my grandparents had never seen them.
Laboratory and field-testing of small-scale, solar-panelled satellite tags on post-hatchling sea turtles to increase our understanding of their habitat selection and offshore movements.
Recovery of sea turtles requires an understanding of their spatial distributions, potential threats and life stage-specific survival, as well as identification of important nursery habitats. But the early life histories of neonate sea turtles remain poorly understood because of technological limitations. This project will develop methods for tagging young turtles to help close this knowledge gap.
The coast of Florida provides a rookery for several marine turtle species, and it hosts one of the world’s largest nesting assemblages of loggerhead sea turtles as well as significant numbers of nesting green and leatherback turtles. Proximity of these sea turtle rookeries to the Gulf Stream current effects environmental conditions in their nests and influences the dispersal options for neonate turtles leaving the beach. However, the early life histories of neonate sea turtles are poorly understood because of technological limitations, that is, the lack of small-scale tracking technologies capable of remotely recording the animals’ positions for days, weeks or months. Yet species recovery requires an understanding of spatial distributions, potential threats and life stage-specific survival, as well as identification of important nursery habitats.
With our recent success in tracking neonate loggerhead turtles for one to seven months we developed a baseline approach that demonstrated the efficacy of such tracking. This study will develop essential tag attachment methods for green turtle neonates and field-test small-scale, solar-panelled satellite tags on post-hatchling sea turtles.
The aims and objectives of this project are to:
The gender of sea turtles is determined by temperature, so climate change could have a catastrophic impact! If the sand is too warm, we get too many females. Nick is studying turtles in the Arabian Gulf, where temperatures are already so extreme that they mimic what many parts of the world are predicted to look like in the future.
Did you know that sea turtles can get cancer? Sometimes tumours become so large that they inhibit the turtles swimming, feeding or vision. At the Sea Turtle Hospital, David is using genetics to learn which human anti-cancer drugs can be used to treat turtles.
Since the 1970’s scientists have been using satellite tags to track wildlife, but with GSM technology- the same system that cell phones use- there may be a better, more accurate and more cost effective solution especially for elusive marine animals. Guilia is working on it.