A project of SCDNR in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
|Name||Species||Life Stage||Release Date||Last Location||Days Transmitted|
Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.
In spring/summer 2016 and 2017, the SCDNR in partnership with the UGA Marine Extension Service will be conducting localized trawling operations off Brunswick, GA to increase the annual number of Kemp's ridley sea turtles captured in a coastal trawl survey in order to improve understanding of demographic structure, as well as to outfit a subset of these Kemp's ridley sea turtles with transmitters to monitor their seasonal distribution patterns.
The impetus for this research stems from a complete lack of within-study recaptures of more than 260 Kemp's ridley sea turtles between 2000 and 2016, in contrast to a roughly 3% recapture rate among several thousand loggerhead sea turtles captured during the same sampling efforts.
This study area was selected on the basis of being a relative 'hot spot' for Kemp's ridley sea turtles both within the 16-year in-water research data set as well as among other data sets (Henwood and Ogren, 1987; Gitschlag, 1996); proximity to the homeport of the sampling vessel as well as a state of the art sea turtle hospital; and an existing array of acoustic receivers maintained by the GADNR in conjunction with another research grant managed by the SCDNR to monitor the occurrence of acoustically-tagged animals (to include Kemp's ridley sea turtles in 2016-17).
The over-arching question that we hope to be able to answer after completion of this two-year deviation from the full regional trawl survey design is 'does the coastal trawl survey adequately sample the habitats used by Kemp's ridley sea turtles during spring/summer in the latitude range of this trawl survey'? As such, there are two critical hypotheses that we intend to test with the novel telemetry data that will be collected in 2016 and 2017.
1. There is no difference in detection frequency of Kemp's ridley sea turtles in the latitude range of the trawl survey vs. latitudes south or north of the survey area.
2. There is no difference in detection frequency of Kemps' ridley sea turtles with respect to distance from shore partitioned as (a) within the trawl survey boundaries, (b) inshore of the trawl survey but still in the coastal ocean, (c) within estuarine waters, and (d) in coastal ocean waters further from shore than sampled by the trawl survey.
Henwood, T.A., and L.H. Ogren. 1987. Distribution and migrations of immature Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempi) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) off Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Northeast Gulf Science 9(2): 153-159.
Gitschlag, G.R. 1996. Migration and diving behavior of Kemp's ridley (Garman) sea turtles along the southeastern Atlantic coast. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 205: 115-135.
This research is being conducted in partnership with the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service which owns and operates the RV Georgia Bulldog, the vessel that is used to capture sea turtles under federal and state permits. Scientific divers and other staff from the GADNR also play a vital role in this study by maintaining 30 acoustic receivers in St. Simon's Sound and in adjacent coastal waters that are used to monitor the distributional patterns of Kemp's ridley sea turtles tagged with acoustic transmitters which complement the data collected for the smaller sample size of satellite transmitter-tagged Kemp's ridley sea turtles monitored herein.