Project Title: Comparing demographics on Florida's only adult green turtle foraging grounds during high and low nesting years
Project Manager: Ryan Welsh
Organization: Inwater Research Group (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $15,400.00
Summary: In the course of ongoing work in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, Inwater Research Group (IRG) has identified areas adjacent to the refuge near the Marquesas Keys containing foraging sub-adult and non-nesting adult green turtles. This area, known as The Quicksands, is the only published foraging grounds for green turtles of these size classes in the southeastern United States. IRG has been returning to these grounds annually to perform vessel-based transects and capture-mark-recapture activities since its discovery in 2005, creating a decade-long monitoring database. IRG considers these foraging grounds to be regionally important and has committed to continuing long term monitoring in this area. In 2017, a record green turtle nesting year for the state of Florida, IRG surveyed these foraging grounds during. During these surveys IRG found a ratio of adult to sub adult green turtles (25:75), to be quite different from the 40:60 ratio normally observed on these foraging grounds. Given the biennial patterns of Florida nesting green turtles, 2018 is forecasted to likely be a low nesting year. IRG will return to this remarkable green turtle foraging ground around the same time as in 2018 for five days to collect the data and compare these efforts to our 2017 findings. We will collect and analyze data on size frequencies, sex ratios, and prevalence of disease, perform fixed repeatable transect surveys to determine density and abundance of turtles observed on the foraging grounds, and collect samples from captured green turtles for genetic and stable isotope analysis.