Satellite Tags: Research Develops a Census for our Seas
Juno Beach, FL – Using satellite tags, researchers at Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) are collecting important data on loggerhead sea turtles and their nesting habits. Earlier this nesting season, LMC’s researchers adhered satellite tags to seven loggerhead sea turtles. The data transmitted from the satellite tags is being used to analyze clutch frequencies (i.e., the multiple incidents in which a nesting sea turtle lays her eggs in a single season) and interesting intervals (i.e., the time between each nesting event). Three of the seven turtles – named Benji, Pappas, and Carlin – are being sponsored by regional and national organizations, including The Benjamin School (Benji), Illustrated Properties (Pappas) and Great Lakes Dredge and Docks Company (GLDD) (Carlin).
Benji. The loggerhead turtle was named in honor of The Benjamin School, which is a coeducational, college-preparatory independent school located down the road from LMC. Benji’s satellite tags transmit tracking data which is being woven into The Benjamin School’s curriculum as a first-hand educational resource providing students a unique opportunity to work with real-world scientific data. The turtle was satellite tagged on the nesting beaches adjacent to LMC on April 18, 2020. Since then, the turtle has returned to nest on the Center’s local beaches four times. Tracking data from this turtle will be used in various ongoing research projects being conducted by the Research Department at LMC.
Carlin. In honor of where Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD) conducted a re-nourishment project, completed in early 2020, this loggerhead sea turtle is named Carlin. GLDD worked closely with LMC during the project to ensure there were no sea turtle nests within the project area. Satellite tags were applied o the turtle when the turtle came on to LMC’s local beaches to nest on April 19, 2020. Tracking data from this turtle will be used in various ongoing research projects being conducted by the Research Department at LMC.
Pappas. In honor of Illustrated Properties, LMC named a nesting loggerhead sea turtle Pappas. The agents at Illustrated Properties understand the importance of ocean conservation and believe that the health of our planet is important to real estate and our local community. Satellite tags were adhered to the turtle’s carapace on April 19, 2020 when the turtle laid a nest on nesting beaches adjacent to LMC’s campus. Tracking data from this turtle will be used in various ongoing research projects being conducted by the Research Department at LMC.
LMC’s researchers are utilizing real-time data transmitted from the satellite tags to document and discover where each tagged female nests throughout the 2020 nesting season. LMC researchers have conducted daily dawn nesting patrols in northern Palm Beach County since 1987. However, the total nest counts each year does not equate to the same number of females who nested on local shores, because turtles lay multiple clutches in a single season. However, continued grant-funded research will help illuminate how many nests an individual female lays within a season.
“There is a lot of census information baked into our nest counts,” said LMC Senior Manager of Research and Data, Sarah Hirsch. “Using nest counts is one of the most simple and efficient ways to uncover trends in sea turtle nest counts over large regions and time periods. We don’t want to devalue those numbers, but having a greater understanding on how many nests a single female contributes to the yearly total nest count is extremely important for us to be able to properly estimate population size.”
Beyond The Data
The data collected from the sponsored sea turtles will go far beyond LMC research publications. Benji will be weaved into The Benjamin School curriculum as a first-hand, educational resource. Pappas will represent the relationship between a healthy planet, and in turn, a healthy real estate market for Illustrated Properties consumers. And Carlin will symbolize GLDD conscientious efforts with LMC to protect critical nesting sites during its beach renourishment project
This project was funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org.
Track Benji, Pappas and Carlin on their respective pages! For more innovative research that shows no signs of abating, please visit marinelife.org/seaturtles/research.
If you discover a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle, please call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (*FWC) or LMC’s Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline at 561-603-0211.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation and educational institution that promotes conservation of ocean ecosystems with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The Center features an on-site hospital, research laboratory, educational exhibits and aquariums, and also operates the Juno Beach Pier, which hosts world-class angling and sightseeing. Situated on one of the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open daily and hosts over 360,000 guests free-of-charge each year. The Center’s conservation team works with 90 local and international organizations across six continents to form partnerships and share conservation initiatives and best practices that are core to its mission of ocean conservation. The Center is expanding and has launched its Waves of Progress capital expansion campaign, designed to accelerate and amplify LMC’s conservation and education impact. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call (561) 627-8280.
Public Relations and Engagement Specialist
Note: Photos have been permitted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)