We kicked off the season with the unusual capture of a leatherback in the Indian River Lagoon, followed by a rare capture of a juvenile Kemp’s ridley. On the nesting beach, we broke the previous leatherback record for most nests on the Brevard Carr Refuge. But the turtles didn’t stop there! We documented a rare adult Kemp’s ridley nesting during the day, and a likely hawksbill-loggerhead hybrid! Oh, and the loggerheads are nesting like crazy–we are on track for a great season!!
The 2016 nesting season has begun and it is shaping up to be the year of the leatherbacks. So far, we’ve counted almost 40 leatherback nests including a couple from our long-time favorite “China Girl” who is back for her 22nd season on the Archie Carr NWR.
We were also surprised and amazed this week when we caught a petite leatherback in the Indian River Lagoon as part of our permitted, and long-term field work. In the 35+ year history of lagoon fieldwork, UCF Marine Turtle Research Group has only encountered one other leatherback. Amazing!
Photo by K. Mansfield, taken as part of our permitted research activities.
The 2013 record green turtle year was not a fluke. To date, we have recorded over 12,000 green turtle nests on the Brevard Co. portion of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. From 1982 to 2004, The UCF Marine Turtle Research Group recorded 12,941 green turtle nests TOTAL over that entire time span. This is an incredible conservation story!
Thank you to the producers and crew of PBS’s Changing Seas for the fantastic episode showcasing our research program. The full episode is now available online:
The loggerheads are nesting like crazy. We had over ~200 nests in April (APRIL!) alone along with some early and unexpected greens! This past weekend, we successfully tagged our first male green turtle of the season as part of a project funded by the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate Grants program. Bring on the turtles!!
It has been an exciting week for the UCF MTRG. Our oceanic research (including our recently published drifter work) will be featured in an upcoming episode of the PBS series Changing Seas. The episode will air on Wednesday, June 17th at 8pm on WPBBT2. It will also be available online at www.changingseas.tv shortly thereafter. To watch the trailer, check out:
A HUGE thanks to the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate program. We received three grants from them this funding cycle! These include funding: (1) for a much-needed new boat (!!); (2) to continue satellite tracking male green turtles; and (3) to analyze and collect new data on the foraging ecology of nesting green turtle females on the Archie Carr NWR.