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SEA TURTLE SIGHTING PROGRAM

In partnership with Seaturtle.org, during the summer of 2001, REEF initiated a sea turtle sightings program to be included as part of its existing Fish Survey Project.  

What do I do if I see a turtle during a REEF dive?
As part of this program, REEF surveyors are now asked to include sea turtle sightings as an additional species on the back of the survey form.  If  the turtle can be identified to species, its common name and/or scientific name should be given, otherwise the surveyor should just mark 'Sea Turtle sp.'  The same abundance codes should be used (S,F,M,A) and this program is applicable in all regions.  In Hawaii, additional information on green sea turtles with
Fibropapillomatosis (FP) tumors is also being recorded.  Click here to find out more about FP.

Why sea turtles?
As the reach of REEF’s survey effort continues to expand, there have been many ideas and thoughts of how to capitalize on the thousands of eyes looking underwater.  While REEF's main focus is marine fish, we have decided to incorporate two additional components through collaborations with other organizations - the Pacific Northwest Invertebrate monitoring program and sea turtles.  There are three rationales for including sea turtle sightings in the REEF Fish Survey Project-
1)  It is well known that sea turtles are facing increasing threats and their populations have continued to decline.  Unfortunately, as with all aspects of the marine environment, scientists and resource managers simply do not have the means to adequately monitor the status and distribution of sea turtles.  Sea turtle sighting data that are provided by the Roving Diver Technique will be useful and valid.
2)  The search image for turtles is compatible with that of fish, and most if not all divers who see a turtle while diving make a note of it on their slate and in their dive log.
3)  Seaturtle.org  will manage and disseminate the information to the sea turtle research community.

What will happen to the sea turtle data?
The data will be housed in REEF's database.  A sea turtle interface will be created in the Fall of 2001 to allow visitors to view summary reports similar to those we now have for fish.  Dr. Michael Coyne via Seaturtle.org will also provide the data to the sea turtle research and conservation communities.

Who is Seaturtle.org?
Seaturtle.org is a non-profit organization based in Maryland, and its mission is to support research and conservation efforts in the sea turtle community by providing online resources and solutions.  Seaturtle.org’s founder and Executive Director, Dr. Michael Coyne, works for NOAA’s Biogeography Program and is REEF's Database Programmer. 
 For more information, visit their website at Seaturtle.org.

How can I learn more about sea turtles?
Seaturtle.org has created an identification card that is available for download here.  You can also visit www.seaturtle.org.


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Date Last Modified: 03/11/02

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