Project Title: Demographic Assessment of Marine Turtles in the Big Bend Seagrasses and St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserves - Year Two
Project Manager: Jonathan Gorham
Organization: Inwater Research Group (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $18,900.00
Summary: The Big Bend area of Florida's gulf coast has received relatively little attention from sea turtle researchers, primarily due to the lack of nesting beaches in the region. Submerged aquatic habitat in the Big Bend region is characterized by large expanses of shallow seagrass and hardbottom habitats that provide foraging opportunities for loggerhead, green, and Kemp's ridley sea turtles. Our previously funded project from the Sea Turtle License Plate Grant Program (13-010R) identified areas within St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve with a high abundance of Kemp’s ridley and green turtles. During this project we found that 79% of green turtles captured exhibited tumors consistent with fibropapillomatosis (FP). The year two of this project would continue to utilize vessel based visual transects and captures of marine turtles in St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve. The project will directly addresses needs identified in the recovery plans for marine turtles by identifying important habitats and determining the distribution and abundance of sea turtles in coastal and marine environments. The information gathered from this research will help produce a comprehensive set of baseline data for sea turtles in the preserves and will aid in the conservation decisions made by preserve mangers.