Bermuda Turtle Project Continues Research

October 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Bermuda Zoological Society in partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy completed another research and education programme this year, with the Bermuda Turtle Project committed to the goal of promoting the conservation of marine turtles through research and education.

“During the 2018 research session the BTP team captured 259 green turtles and 1 hawksbill turtles at study sites around the island. Among the capture were 91 turtles [35%] that had been previously tagged, most in the same site as their original capture,” a spokesperson said.

Green Turtle Chelonia mydas

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“One animal, first tagged near Tudor Hill in 2002, was recaptured 16 years later, on 14 August 2018, at Wreck Hill, just a bit north of the original tagging site. On 23 August 2018, the BTP captured a young green turtle that had been rescued on 2 August 2012 when it stranded near Jew’s Bay Dock having swallowed a fish hook.

“After surgery to remove the hook and rehabilitation, it was tagged and released at Shelly Bay on October 3, 2012. The BTP has subsequently captured this turtle three times [2013, 2014 and 2018] at Bailey’s Bay during annual sampling sessions. By 2018, it had grown 11 cm! This was a lucky turtle.

“Two large turtles had satellite transmitters attached to their shells in our effort to learn more about the movements and habitat use of sea turtles. Named Jubilee and Soirée these two green turtles are sending strong signals and their daily movements can be followed by visiting here.

Green Turtle Chelonia mydas

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“In pursuit of our mission to protect sea turtles through research and education BTP runs annually an In-Water Course which brings students to Bermuda to learn about sea turtle biology and conservation.

“BTP is building capacity and enhancing relationships with overseas jurisdictions, particularly, those with responsibilities to help manage the source populations for Bermuda’s turtles.

“Participants this year included environmental officers and biologists from Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Colombia and the US.

“These young scientists and biologists gained valuable experience in a range of field methods, reviewed and discussed 20 scientific papers, attended evening lectures and performed necropsies on 12 animals received by the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo stranding network.

“Over the 22 years of running this course BTP has shared hands-on experience, knowledge and expertise to 206 students from 40 jurisdictions including many Bermudians.

Dr. Peter Meylan preparing to release the one hawksbill turtle caught

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“The Bermuda Turtle Project [BTP] continues work envisaged by Dr. Archie Carr and initiated by Dr. Clay Frick of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and Dr. James Burnett-Herkes of the Bermuda Aquarium in 1968.

“Now in its 50th year, the project has grown from strength to strength, committed to the goal of promoting the conservation of marine turtles through research and education.

“In addition to discovering the year-round presence of green turtles and hawksbills, long-term consistent monitoring tells us that sea turtles arrive in Bermuda at a very young age and spend up to 20 years, as juveniles, on our beautiful seagrass flats and reefs.

“Genetic analysis shows these young turtles hatched on beaches in Costa Rica, Florida, Mexico, Cuba, Surinam, Aves Island, and as far away as Guinea Bissau in West Africa.

Students participating in the 2018 In Water Course

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“Turtles tagged in Bermuda and subsequently documented overseas tell us they make long migrations when they leave our shores for the coasts of USA, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.

The 2018 BTP Field Team

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“Bermuda-tagged turtles seen nesting on beaches thousands of kilometers away in Costa Rica, Mexico and Florida suggest it takes many more years, almost 2 decades, before they are mature enough to nest after their decades growing up in Bermuda.

“The most powerful message from our findings is that sea turtles are a peaceful shared resource crossing many geographic and political boundaries. Vigilant management, protection and international cooperation throughout the region is essential to long-term survival of the species.

Jané Salazar from Belize carefully transports a juvenile green turtle

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“To support its mission to secure a sustainable future for one of the most valued sea turtle research, education and conservation programmes in the world, the Bermuda Turtle Project is hosting the ‘Sea Turtle Soirée’ on Friday, November 2nd at O’Hara House, 1 Bermudiana Road from 6:30pm-11:30pm.

Dr. Dan Evans of the Sea Turtle Conservancy inspect a young green turtle

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“Mix and mingle! Interact and enjoy! Explore and taste delicious food from around the world, all paired perfectly with a large selection of wines courtesy of Goslings.

“Tickets for this event are now on sale direct through the Bermuda Zoological Society! $250 for a regular ticket or $500 a ticket to be an Event Patron.”

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