Ma­rine tur­tle mon­i­tor­ing

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Dugongs -

Du­gongs aren’t the only species to en­joy the south­ern Red Sea’s sea­grass. Ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Dr Is­lam Mohamed and a team of vol­un­teers have been mon­i­tor­ing var­i­ous tur­tle species since 2000 at up to 800 nest sites, record­ing the num­ber of breed­ing adults and hatch­lings.

“They lay be­tween 70 and 100 eggs,” says Is­lam. “But from ev­ery 1,000 eggs only one tur­tle reaches ma­tu­rity. The mo­ment they hatch, the baby tur­tles face preda­tors.”

Satel­lite tag­ging is used to es­tab­lish where the ma­rine rep­tiles go when they leave their breed­ing sites. The re­searchers have dis­cov­ered that the tur­tles in their study did not fol­low par­tic­u­lar routes or ocean cur­rents.

When they reach sex­ual ma­tu­rity the tur­tles re­turn to their birth sites to breed. “Pop­u­la­tions in Red Sea feed­ing grounds are rel­a­tively sta­ble but dis­tur­bance in breed­ing ar­eas is be­com­ing a prob­lem,” says Is­lam. “Keep­ing those places safe from hu­man ac­tiv­ity is a pri­or­ity.”

Tur­tles are tracked in the Red Sea us­ing trans­mit­ters.

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