In-water sea turtle research around the Keys in Florida
- Author: Jeanette du Toit
- Friday, 17 March 2017
- Sea Turtles
These projects include performing standardized transects to evaluate sea turtle distribution and abundance in various marine habitats.
Inwater Research Group is a small non-profit located in Jensen Beach, FL whose mission is to provide the scientific community and general public with information to promote the conservation of coastal and marine species and their habitats. Specifically, our research and education is focused on the various species of sea turtles that utilize Florida waters and nesting beaches.
Inwater Research Group has a long-standing in-water research project in St. Lucie County, FL. This is a hands-on program that safely captures, collects data, tags, and releases sea turtles from our study location. To date, the program has collected data from over 17,000 sea turtles, making this one of the largest sea turtle databases in the world. As part of this program, we also conduct sea turtle nesting surveys on the northern 19 kilometers of Hutchinson Island.
These areas are monitored in order to count the number of nests and non-nesting emergences (false crawls) by each species of sea turtle. We also perform inventories on a small subset of these nests to calculate emergence success of the hatchlings within the nests. In 2015 we observed the highest green turtle nest count ever recorded for Hutchinson Island (860 nests) which was followed by the highest number of loggerhead nests (9,892) on the island in 2016. Both of these record nesting years are optimistic signs that conservation efforts are working and indicates the gradual recovery of these threatened and endangered species. Overall, this project is extremely valuable conservation work, and generates a vast amount of data that are used by scientists and regulatory agencies.
In addition to the St. Lucie Project, we have ongoing projects throughout Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. These projects include performing standardized transects to evaluate sea turtle distribution and abundance in various marine habitats. We also conduct captures of sea turtles on these projects. As part of these capture programs, we collect morphometric measurements and other data such as blood and tissue samples to better understand population structure, growth rates, genetic origins, sex ratio, and stable isotope analysis.
All of our projects provide the opportunity for Inwater Research Group staff to collaborate with other researchers by providing data, specimen, and samples to support various research endeavors. To learn more about any of our projects or education initiatives, please visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/InwaterResearch or at our website www.inwater.org.