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What a blast!

By Nicolas Pilcher, 10th February 2012

Part of our work over here in Borneo is to investigate the impact of blast fishing on sea turtles – trying to build up sufficient ammunition to take to the State Cabinet to justify added investment in eradicating the practice. It is a sad part of life that fish bombing still occurs, and at Mantanani, where we have worked for years documenting the foraging ground turtle population structure and dynamics, several turtles have been found dead underwater due to the practice. We want it stopped, but we also want to know preciscely how turltes are impacted.

We set up a floating cage and deployed a turtle kitted with a time-depth recorder and a 3-d accelerometer to do just that. Coupled with a time stamped hydrophone listening for blasts, the turtle went about its daily life and collected data on its movements and general activity.

This was a test period to make sure we could get all the information we needed to link the two data sets, and so far all systems are go! The turtle adapted quickly to its 10m x 10m enclosure, and the hydrophone was able to capture a distant blast or two. Now we just need to deploy this for longer to capture the actual turtle reactions to the sound waves. Standby for updates later in the year.

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