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LMC partners with statewide organizations to conduct green sea turtle research in the Keys

Photo credit: Bette Zirkelbach and Force Blue

Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s (LMC) Director of Research Dr. Justin Perrault joined research partners at Force Blue (a team of retired combat veterans focused on programs to help the world’s marine resources in the Florida Keys), The Turtle Hospital of Marathon, Inwater Research Group, and Florida Atlantic University – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, to conduct a broad health assessment of juvenile green sea turtles in the Keys during the month of June.

This population of sea turtles has been somewhat understudied and appears to have a high incidence of the disease known as fibropapillomatosis (FP). This disease, linked to a virus, results in tumors forming on a sea turtle’s body and can be internal as well. FP impacts all species of sea turtles worldwide, with the majority being green sea turtles, some cases can be fatal.

The Florida Keys Sea Turtle Health Study’s mission is to find where green sea turtles live and feed in Keys waters, measure the incidence of FP and the turtles’ general health. The long-term collaborative effort will help researchers understand more about this sea turtle population and disease occurrence.

“We thank Force Blue and our partners for engaging with this important work and helping our veterans become involved in marine conservation through the ocean and calming nature of sea turtles,” said Dr. Perrault. “The ultimate goal is to expand upon this study, so we can learn more about this sea turtle population.”

This sea turtle research was conducted pursuant to NMFS ESA Permit No. 21169 and FWC MTP 125. Results are expected to be released upon the conclusion of the study.

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About 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 350,000 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. When complete, the facility will offer one of the world’s most advanced and unique experiences for guests and scientific partners. For more information, visit marinelife.org or call (561) 627-8280.