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
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.
will manage and disseminate the information to the sea turtle research
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?
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.