A project of Mote Marine Laboratory in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.
The history of sea turtle research is shaped by researchers having convenient access to turtles while nesting on land. However, marine turtles face threats for the other 99% of their life cycle in seas far from the nesting beach. The major rookery of loggerhead nesting in the Gulf of Mexico is in Sarasota County where the beaches are monitored by the Mote Marine Laboratory's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program and Coastal Wildlife Club, Inc. While there is a firm grasp of the terrestrial challenges in maintaining viable nesting beaches, there is less certainty of threats in the oceanic realm once females depart the nesting beaches. A key to understanding the in-water life history is to follow the turtle movements.
Tracking the movements of marine turtles is a challenge because they migrate between spatially distant developmental, breeding, and adult feeding habitats. Consequently, the management of highly migratory turtles requires a regional management approach. Turtles that nest in Florida may migrate from the Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Atlantic, or Caribbean. The converse is also true, that turtles feeding in Florida waters may later migrate elsewhere to nest.
This migratory behavior poses several key management questions. Where do turtles travel from the nesting beach? What hazards do they encounter en-route to and from a feeding ground? Can portions of their travel routes be safeguarded during a migration? Do all turtles take the same route or do individuals select different routes and habitats? Another set of questions arises about their responses to oceanic variables such as currents and temperature. Do sea turtles migrate seasonally in response to winter temperatures? Are the home habitats spatially diffuse or do they congregate at current boundaries or eddies? Tracking migratory paths can detail critical habitat use through the year as travel corridors and destinations are mapped in relation to potential threats, such as incidental capture in coastal or pelagic fisheries, harmful algal blooms, or zones of boat traffic.
The project is coordinated by the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at Mote Marine Laboratory. The Casey Key Association allows access to the beachfront along this stretch of coast.
Satellite tags and tracking time were sponsored in whole or in part by:
Mote Scientific Foundation, Virginia Miller, New Canaan Country School, Jeniam Foundation, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Sirtrack, Coastal Wildlife Club, NASA Signals of Spring