Project Title: Abundance and movements of sub-adult and adult hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in northern Palm Beach County, Florida
Project Manager: Lawrence Wood
Organization: Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $13,875.25
Summary: Though it is apparent that hawksbills are found to the north and to the south of central Palm Beach County, the reefs extending northward into southern Martin County are of particular interest because they may be at or near the northernmost part of the hawksbill’s range in continental U. S. waters, where the benthic community contrasts most with those found in more southerly areas. In addition, this area is well-known as a nearshore corridor for the annual migrations of numerous marine species, including sea turtles, and a higher-than-usual number of diver reports suggest that this location may also be host to the occasional larger, perhaps migrating adult hawksbill, especially in the summer months. The curious seasonal presence of adults in Florida waters warrants further exploration, and the reefs of extreme northern Palm Beach and southern Martin Counties may be among the best places to find them. By extending a long-term, well-proven hawksbill mark-recapture study into this new area, we will gain an ever-clearer picture of the distribution, abundance, and ecology of both sub-adult and adult members of this critically endangered species in Florida waters.