In-Water Monitoring Suggests an Upbeat Decade for Sea Turtles in the Southeast United States
Michael Arendt, SCDNR
7 Sept 2012
Since 2000, the SCDNR has managed (in partnership with the UGA Marine Extension Service and numerous collaborators) a regional trawl survey to assess the relative abundance, distributional patterns, and health of sea turtles. The survey operates from mid-May through July and conducts random sampling in coastal waters <50' deep between Winyah Bay, SC and St. Augustine, FL. More than 2,000 sea turtles have been captured using this technique, of which 92% are loggerheads, of which 85% are juveniles that span the gamut of sizes between post-pelagic settlement and maturity. Tag-recapture and satellite-telemetry data indicate strong site fidelity of juvenile loggerheads to coastal neritic developmental habitats. Catch rates for juvenile loggerheads remain stable between 55 and 75 cm SCLmin, but are increasing significantly for pubescent loggerheads measuring 75 to 80 cm SCLmin. Catch rates for Kemp's ridley sea turtles have increased sharply since 2010, with increases in catch attributed to small (<35 cm SCLmin) turtles that have only recently recruited to neritic habitats.
Back to Fort Johnson Seminar page.