The 2016 nesting season has begun and it is shaping up to be the year of the leatherbacks. So far, we’ve counted almost 40 leatherback nests including a couple from our long-time favorite “China Girl” who is back for her 22nd season on the Archie Carr NWR.
We were also surprised and amazed this week when we caught a petite leatherback in the Indian River Lagoon as part of our permitted, and long-term field work. In the 35+ year history of lagoon fieldwork, UCF Marine Turtle Research Group has only encountered one other leatherback. Amazing!
Phot by K. Mansfield, taken as part of our permitted research activities.
The 2013 record green turtle year was not a fluke. To date, we have recorded over 12,000 green turtle nests on the Brevard Co. portion of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. From 1982 to 2004, The UCF Marine Turtle Research Group recorded 12,941 green turtle nests TOTAL over that entire time span. This is an incredible conservation story!
Green turtle finishing her nesting as the sun rises on the Archie Carr NWR. Photo: G. Stahelin.
Last year, we spent a fun week with the “Changing Seas” crew while they filmed our offshore work in the Gulf of Mexico, and our beach work on the Archie Carr NWR. The resulting episode of “Changing Seas” will premiere on June 17th at 8:00 pm on WPBT2 (Miami) or online at changingseas.tv.
It is shaping up to be an early year for nesting, especially for loggerheads and greens. With so many mating pairs of green turtles washing in the surf, we’ve managed to satellite tag four male greens so far (two more tags to go!). Photo by C. Long (2015)
The loggerheads are nesting like crazy. We had over ~200 nests in April (APRIL!) alone along with some early and unexpected greens! This past weekend, we successfully tagged our first male green turtle of the season as part of a project funded by the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate Grants program. Bring on the turtles!!
It has been an exciting week for the UCF MTRG. Our oceanic research (including our recently published drifter work) will be featured in an upcoming episode of the PBS series Changing Seas. The episode will air on Wednesday, June 17th at 8pm on WPBBT2. It will also be available online at www.changingseas.tv shortly thereafter. To watch the trailer, check out:
Congratulations to Katrina Phillips for receiving a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Katrina is a doctoral student in the UCF MTRG. Her research will focus on sea turtles’ oceanic stages. It has been a good funding week for our lab.
A HUGE thanks to the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate program. We received three grants from them this funding cycle! These include funding: (1) for a much-needed new boat (!!); (2) to continue satellite tracking male green turtles; and (3) to analyze and collect new data on the foraging ecology of nesting green turtle females on the Archie Carr NWR.
We are excited to announce the #TurtleJournalProject. Twelve field journals will be migrating around the world. Each one is unique. Researchers and sea turtle biologists from around the globe will contribute their thoughts, pictures, and messages. The first journals will be released at the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting on Jeckyll Island, Georgia next week! At the end of their 2-year migration, we will collect and compile the journals into an electronic book to share with participants. Follow this project on Facebook and Twitter!