Investigating The Sea Turtles Of Tampa Bay

The struggles of sea turtles to reach their nesting locations every year have been well-publicized in recent years by conservancy groups. A program in Tampa Bay was one of the earliest programs to investigate the movements and behavior of the species. Dr. Dave Nelson, a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Waterways Experiment Station, developed the project. He captured and tagged a male loggerhead, named Jason, in August of 1997. More loggerheads were captured in November, including a female named Debbie. The project continued through 1998.The capture of the males was especially well-planned (or lucky, considering on your perspective), since males usually don’t leave the water except to pursue females through the surf.

Sea turtles may not have their habitats to return to in the near future, however, if we don’t face the consequences our current actions are having, including: hunting turtles for meat; commercial fishing; entanglement in marine debris; and a thriving illegal shell trade. The Army Corps of Engineers’ study was designed to protect the turtles during the dredging of Tampa Bay.Florida’s desire to protect loggerheads has not diminished in the ensuing years. Between 2008 and 2009, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the University of Central Florida worked together to track the patterns of migrating loggerheads. Public support is also high, and interested citizens can donate to groups like the Sea Turtle Conservancy, founded in Gainesville, Florida in 1959.

Volunteers are also invited to adopt a satellite-tracked turtle, or to work as part of the Green Turtle, Leatherback, and Neotropical Bird programs at various sites. If you want to make a difference in the lives of these creatures, don’t take your timestart doing your research today. The threats against the turtles continue to increase, and the turtles themselveswell, they’re not getting any faster.

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