Marine turtle monitoring
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.